Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal : Chapter Eighty-Five : What's coming?


Two weeks later Thursday — 3:25 P.M.

After getting a bite to eat, and checking that Katy and Noelle had snacks, Delphie sat down at a small table in her apartment. She usually took care of the kids after school, but Jill had taken the day off from lingering trial. Jill had offered to take care of the kids. Jill, Katy and Noelle were upstairs playing Barbies. Delphie looked up when she heard Katy’s high pitched squealing giggle. It was nice to have children around again.

She needed to work on her garden plan. Mike would be home this weekend. He and Jacob would make quick work of the early spring bed turn over. Reaching for her companion planting guide, her eyes fell on her Tarot deck. Maybe a few quick family readings would settle her mind.

She started with Jill. She focused her mind on Jill while she shuffled the cards. With her left hand, she split the deck into three piles then put them back together.

She turned over the top card – Lovers. Of course, Jill and Jacob. The figures on the card almost looked like them. Their union was blessed. No matter what happened they would work through it with love.

Turning over the next card, she saw the two of cups. Another card about love. Jill was really happy and in love. Delphie’s mind flashed to Jill and Jacob kissing in the kitchen. They had been cleaning up after dinner. Jacob was handing her dishes. A dish, a kiss. She smiled. They were really cute.

Without thinking, she turned over the next card – The Tower. Delphie gasped. The tower? How could that be true? The tower represented a sudden or catastrophic change. Jill will be blind-sided by a dramatic change.

Shaking her head, Delphie would have to be certain to pay special attention to Jill. Jill would need her help when everything came down.

Turning her mind to Jacob, she shuffled the cards and split the deck. When she was sure the cards were well mixed, she pulled the first card for Jacob – the Ten of Pentacles. Jacob certainly had achieved success. The sale of Lipson construction was going well. The employees were buying shares and participating in decisions. Yes, Jacob deserved that success.

The next card she pulled was the King of Cups. Yes, Jacob was the becoming a wise leader like his father. With Jill here, he was calmer, wiser, and happier. She was glad to see Jacob step into himself.

She flipped over the next card – The Tower. Delphie shook her head. The catastrophic sudden change must them both. Poor kids.

She turned her mind to Valerie. Valerie called every other day to talk to everyone. She was making such a special effort to stay involved in the family. Delphie loved hearing her happy voice. Delphie mixed the card with shuffling and splitting.

First card, Eight of Pentacles. Yes, Valerie was hard at work on her film. She was also having a great time. This film must be really important in her career.

Delphie turned over the next card – The Tower. Again!

Frightened, Delphie turned over the next card. Oh Goddess, the five of Cups. Grief, loss or bereavement. What was in store for them?

Moving at rapid pace, Delphie mixed the cards and did a reading for Mike. The Tower appeared again. Sam’s reading had the same Tower.

The card must be dirty. Sticky. She went to the kitchen to get a towel and some diluted ammonia. After cleaning the card, she shuffled again.

The Tower appeared for Katy, Nash, Noelle, Honey, MJ and Sandy.

She decided to do a reading for herself. She shuffled and split until she was certain the cards were well mixed.

Turning over the first card, she had the Seven of Pentacles. Yes, she was happily assessing her life. All these years of hard work were paying off. With everyone around, she was happier than she’d ever been.

The next card was the Tower. Good Goddess. The Tower again!

With great trepidation, Delphie turned over the next card. She gasped and dropped the card. Death. Something in her life would die. She knew in her heart that this card never meant physical death. Still, combined with the Tower, the loss would be caused by a powerful force and have sweeping ramifications.

Biting her lip, she shuffled the cards to do her reading again. And pulled the same cards.

In her mind, she heard the assertion she said thousand of times to clients: ‘The cards never lie. We can misinterpret them, but they are never wrong.’ There was no misinterpreting this omen. Something was going to happen that would affect everyone she loved.

What was coming?

The cards had no answer for that. Something was coming, something real, something hard, and she had idea what.


Thursday — 4:30 P.M.

Standing on the elevator, Sandy smoothed out her top. She’d just started wearing maternity clothing and she hated it. How did celebrities always look so elegant while she was starting to look like an elephant? Even Heather looked better than Sandy did. She rubbed her hand over her belly. The baby was growing and healthy.

At least she was no longer in danger. Max has been right. Just one public photo of the back of Alex Hargreaves’s head caused the contract to be canceled. Good thing. She simply could not deal with a bodyguard tagging along today. She had way too much to do.

Stepping off the elevator, she looked around then wandered down the hall. She would learn about her father’s estate today. Her Godfather, Seth, hired this attorney to deal with the Feds and sort out the estate. Today, she would find out what, if anything, she would inherit from her father’s estate.

Her mother would be there. Her mother hadn’t spoken a word to her since she flipped out at the hospital. Jill and Heather had gone to her mother’s house to tell her that Sandy was pregnant. But her mother told them, ‘That slut was on her own.’ Of course, Jill wouldn’t tell her what her mother said. Jill just said that her mother had finally lost the last piece of her mind. Sandy had weaseled it out of Heather.

Anjelika had offered to go with Sandy today, but Sandy had refused. She needed this appointment to be short and simple. Otherwise she’d be late to pick up Nash from martial arts practice.

Entering the office, she gave her name to the receptionist and was told they were ready for her. She followed the receptionist down a dark hallway to a large office. An elderly man sat behind a huge mahogany desk. He stood up when she entered the room. Seeing her mother sitting in a chair, Sandy stopped in the doorway. Taking a breath for courage, Sandy held out her hand to shake the lawyer’s hand.

“Thank you both for coming,” the lawyer said. “This shouldn’t take too long.”

Sandy sat down in a leather chair next to her mother. Her mother didn’t look at her. Glancing at her mother’s face, she saw that her mother’s lips were set in a thin angry line. In the last month, her mother had aged. Her hair was uncombed and oily. Sandy wondered if her mother had been drinking.

“As you may know, over four million dollars was found in the walls of the house,” the lawyer said.

Sandy watched her mother’s interest peak.

“The Federal government has claimed that money. The money was collected in the process of committing felony child abuse.”

“What does that mean?” her mother asked.

“The money was from the proceeds of your ex-husband’s child pornography business. Sexually abusing a child then creating child pornography is a felony. It’s illegal to profit from a felony.”

“But that money belongs to me,” her mother said. “I had to feed, cloth and provide shelter for the child. Doesn’t that make the money mine?”

Sandy watched the interaction between her mother and the attorney with a kind of sick fascination. Jill was right. Her mother had lost her mind.

“No, ma’am,” the lawyer appeared horrified as well. “The money belongs to the Federal Government.”

“But I thought parents controlled the rights to money earned by minor children,” her mother pressed.

“Not when the minor children are being victimized in the course of a felony,” the lawyer said. “Sandra? Do you have any questions?”

“No sir,” Sandy said. “I expected this.”

“Good,” the lawyer said. “The next matter is the house. As you know, the house was sold quickly to pay your father’s estimated legal fees. The city assessed the house at $278,000 and it sold for an even $250,000. Your father’s legal fees amounted to five thousand dollars. He also had a $10,000 government service life insurance policy which names Sandra as the beneficiary. He had some savings…”

“Five thousand in savings and two thousand in checking,” her mother said.

“Yes,” the lawyer said. “A will was found among the money. He stipulated that Sandra was the heir to his estate.”

“What does that mean? You mean she gets everything?”

“Wait,” Sandy said. “Slow down. Tell Mom why she’s here.”

“Don’t you dare call me ‘Mom,’” her mother said. “You ungrateful, spoiled child.”

“Sandra asked if you would be here…” the lawyer started.

“You set this up to humiliate me again!” Her mother jumped to her feet.

“Please sit down,” the lawyer said. “Sandra wanted everything to be clear. So there aren’t any uncertainties or confusion.”

“Mom…” Sandy said.

Her mother gave her one last look and stormed out of the lawyer’s office.

“Why didn’t you tell her I was going to split the estate with her?” Sandy asked.

“Sandra, I reviewed your parents divorce decree,” the lawyer said. “They were divorced for more than twenty years. When they divorced, she received everything – all the bank accounts, their house, the car, everything. She also received generous child support and alimony, which you generated for her, until your step-father married her. She is not entitled to anything from this estate.”

“I wanted her…”

“I’m sorry, Sandra. You can’t buy her love anymore,” the lawyer said.

Sandy’s eyes went wide with the shock of the simple truth. She sat back in her seat for a moment.

“I apologize for my frankness,” the lawyer said.

“No, it’s all right. What’s next?”

“We have a year to settle the estate. We’ve found another bank account for your father, but haven’t received the records. We’ve paid off his debts and will file taxes.”

“You’ll let me know?” Sandy asked.

“I will,” the lawyer said.

Sandy stood to leave the office. The lawyer walked her to the lobby. She was almost out the door when the lawyer said: “I am truly sorry.”

Sandy nodded and left the office. Walking down the hall, she turned toward the elevator where her mother stood.

“Mom, please,” Sandy said.

Her mother wouldn’t look at her.

“I invited you there because we planned to split the…”

“You are dead to me,” her mother said.

“What about my brother and sister? I miss them. And…”

“You are dead to them as well,” her mother said. “You ruined my life, humiliated me and…”

The elevator opened and her mother stepped on.

“I don’t ever want to see you again. Ever. In my entire life.”

Dumbfounded, Sandy watched her mother step on the elevator. The elevator doors closed leaving Sandy staring at the space where her mother once stood. She felt nothing – no sadness or grief. She felt a kind of blank emptiness. She was sure she should cry. She was confident someone else, a normal person, would scream or yell. For a moment, she pondered calling Jill or Heather or Tanesha. In her mind, she heard what they would each say about her mother’s behavior.

When the elevator opened again, Sandy stepped on it. She was done lingering in the hardship and drama of the past. After all, her present was full enough.

Plus, Nash was waiting for her.


Thursday — 4:45 P.M.

“I realize this has been a long trial,” Ann Campbell addressed the jury. “You’ve heard witnesses confirm that evidence is true and other witnesses who say that it’s false. The defense will argue that you’ve spent the last three weeks listening to witnesses who made up stories, and evidence, designed to convict their innocent client. My job is to help you understand that given the concrete video footage, biological data, as well and long history of behavior, this woman is a danger to our community.”

“After three weeks, I’m confident you are aware of the danger the defendant poses to those around her.”

“Rather than run through the evidence for the forth or fifth time, I’d like to leave you with this. This is a video of Honey Lipson dancing at the party.”

The Assistant District Attorney played a tape of Honey dancing. Waltzing, she swirled around the room on the arm of a famous movie star. Her fluid blue evening gown blew around her as she danced. The video stopped with an image of Honey’s laughing face.

“This footage was taken merely ten minutes before she was attacked.”

The video replayed the attack on Honey. The next images were of her in the hospital fighting for her life.

“Her father took these photos,” the Assistant District Attorney said. “She barely survived. No one expected her to survive. Yet, here she is.”

The next images were photographs of Honey’s naked back. Surgical scars ran from the base of her scull to her sacrum. The scars from where she was stabbed looked like steps on some ancient ladder. The area where her spine was severed showed the fusion marks. The scars were bright red against her pale white skin. The entire courtroom sat in stunned silence.

“To us, this case comes down to this: Honey Lipson looked like this.”

The video showed Honey laughing and waltzing.

“Ten minutes later, Honey fought for her life.”

The video showed Honey crumpled on the stairwell while MJ fought to save her life.

“Thank you for taking the time to review the facts in this case.”

Walking back to her seat, Ann Campbell looked at Honey. This amazing girl smiled at Ann then nodded. No matter what happened in this trial, Ann was certain she had never met a stronger, better person than Honey Lipson. Certainly she’d never forget her.


Thursday — 5:45 P.M.

Tanesha leaned back in her chair. Tres smiled at her. Just a smile, no more, no less. He’d already ordered drinks and appetizers. God knows he was the perfect gentleman. But…

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Tanesha said. She leaned across the table to take his hand. “Everything.”

“Yeah,” Tres replied. “Listen, before you…”

“I’m not dumping you,” Tanesha said. “Don’t make that face.”

Tres laughed. He kissed her hand.

“I’ve had a great time,” Tanesha said. “Really great.”

“But?” Tres asked.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s like there’s something missing.”

“I know,” he said. “I’ve had a really great time. You’re funny, smart, charming, so… so sexy…”

Tanesha blushed. He stroked her cheek.

“We’re very compatible,” she said.

“Compatible, yes, that’s the word,” he laughed.

“I really like you,” she said. “But I don’t…”

“Yes,” Tres said. “I’ve thought the same thing.”

“I’m starting med school in less than six months.”


“I see Jill with Jacob or even Sandy with Aden, when Aden wasn’t in jail, and I want that.”

“Me too,” Tres said. He leaned forward to kiss her lips. “Do you think it will grow?”

Tanesha shook her head.

“I didn’t think so either,” Tres said. “It’s like we were meant to be really good friends.”

“With benefits.”

“I’ve never had that work out well,” Tres said. “Someone’s heart gets hurt, usually mine.”

“Yeah, it’s never worked for me either. Are you…?” Tanesha shook her head and stopped talking.

“What?” he asked.

“Are you in love with Heather?”

“Oh, Heather.” Tres shrugged. Picking up his beer, he added, “Love? No. I’m excited to be Mack’s Godfather.”

“I’m excited to be Mack’s Godmother,” Tanesha said.

“Let’s do this,” Tres said. “You start school in August. Let’s have some fun this summer, enjoy each other’s company, when August rolls around, we can see where we are.”

“That works for me.” Feeling a sense of relief, Tanesha nodded.

“I’m glad,” Tres smiled.

“You won’t feel like I used you? I mean you pay for everything. I don’t want to use you like a summer fling.”

“Use away,” he said. “Let’s have a summer fling. When you start school, you’ll need to focus and won’t really have time for me. That’s all right. I was thinking about playing hockey this winter with Jake and Mike.”

“We’ll still be honest with each other, right?”

“Of course.”

“If you change your mind or realize you’re in love with someone else…”

“You’ll be the first to know,” Tres said.

“Me too. I’ll tell you first.”

“You think I’m in love with Heather.”

“I do,” Tanesha said.

“What would that be like? That feels too weird,” he said. “We’d be around each other all the time and…”

“We’d be honest and talk about it as we go,” she said. “No drama.”

She held out her hand.

“No drama,” he said. He shook her hand in agreement. “You’re really a great friend.”

“With benefits.” Tanesha laughed.

“With benefits,” he said.


Thursday — 6:20 P.M. Canon City, minimum security

Aden and Pete had waited at DRDC for almost two weeks before a placement was available at Canon City minimum security. Two lonely weeks. Except for the one phone call, Aden hadn’t been able to speak to Sandy or the kids. They hadn’t passed the security clearance yet either. Aden wrote them letters every other day. But since he was in diagnostics, the letters wouldn’t be sent until he was moved to Canon City.

God he missed them.

Aden and Pete arrived at Canon City around dinner time. They had dinner, some mushy mass of inedible pseudo something, and were sent to their cell. Outside of workouts, Aden had planned spend the next three months in this cell.

But Aden did needed to workout. Lifting weights was a cornerstone of his sobriety. Aden worried that Pete would relapse now that they were in the general population. They had been here less than two hours and had already turned down two offers for drugs.

“Come on, let’s get a workout in,” Aden said. “We have a couple hours until lights out.”

Pete nodded. So far, Pete had done everything Aden had told him to do. His head was just clearing enough for him to want to be sober.

They walked past the open cells, down the stair well and through the main area until they got to the workout area. Overcome with the noise, smell and buzz of activity, they stood in the doorway for a moment. Aden took a step forward when he heard:

“Well, if it isn’t the little brother.”

Turning toward the voice, he stepped into a fist coming in his direction. Before he could respond, another rapid fired fist broke his nose. The third fist finished the job. Aden crumpled to the floor.

Denver Cereal continues next week…


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