Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Denver Cereal : Chapter Sixty-Seven : You're not God

CHAPTER SIXTY-SEVEN

Two weeks later Monday – 7:30 A.M

“It’s Ok to drop me here,” Nash said. He shifted as if to get out of Aden’s moving SAAB sedan.

“We can go another block, Nash,” Noelle said from the back seat.

“That’s not school property either,” Sandy said. “Plus the windows are dark. Who’s going to know the contraband drop off?”

“I don’t want you to get arrested or something,” Nash said.

Sandy laughed.

“Look, there’s Teddy. That’s his guardian, Andy.” Nash pointed to the bodybuilder and the boy walking on the sidewalk. “Have you met him?”

“I’ve met Captain Ramirez,” Sandy said. “Should we stop here?”

When she pulled to the curb, Nash jumped out of the car. Sandy watched the large man and the boy turn to greet Nash. She smiled at how happy and excited the boys were to see each other. For all the chaos of the last few months, Nash had landed on his feet. His grades were good, he enjoyed school again and he had a nice friend. She was about to pull away when Nash tapped her side window. The window was half down when he threw his arms around her neck.

“Love you Sandy. Thanks for taking me and… being my Mom.”

And he was gone. She watched him run off to be with Teddy. Sniffling back her tears, she and Noelle waved as she drove by.

“We’re both really happy you’re going to be our Mom, Sandy,” Noelle said.

Looking in the rear view mirror, Sandy nodded to the girl.

“That was the best Christmas I’ve ever had,” Noelle said. “Everything was perfect. And mostly that was ‘cuz you were there. Dad’s nice, you know, but he’s just a Dad. He doesn’t think of decorating or pretty packages or stockings or special breakfast or friends or clothes shopping or parties or… He thinks of boy stuff, practical stuff. Not nice stuff.”

Sandy pulled up to the Marlowe School. Noelle came around the car for a hug and a kiss.

“See you tonight, Mom!”

Noelle waved then ran up to the school. Overwhelmed with emotion, Sandy sat for a moment after Noelle entered the Marlowe School. With a sigh, she pulled away from the curb.

She was about a block away when she saw her biological father walking up the sidewalk. She wasn’t sure why he surprised her so much. He lived a couple blocks from the school. The site of him brought shivers down her spine. Her heart raced and her breathing was tight. She turned on the next street to get away from the sight of him.

Pulling over, she dialed the number the child pornography unit gave her. They assured that they were moving on her father soon. Don’t worry Sandy, they said. We have people tailing him. This will be over soon.

Soon.

~~~~~~~~

Monday – 12:05 A.M

“Sir? If you could follow me.”

The nurse led Mike and Valerie into a small comfortably decorated room. There was a love seat, a television with DVDs stacked around a player and a variety of magazines.

“You know what to do?” The nurse asked.

Mike nodded. Valerie plopped down on the love seat.

“Very well. Leave your sample in the slot.” The nurse pointed to box in the wall with a metal door attached to the other side of the wall. “Just click this switch so we know it’s there. We’ll take care of the rest. The doctor will see you when you’re done.”

The nurse closed the door. Mike shifted back and forth then blushed.

“I thought you did this all the time.” Valerie said.

“Yeah, Val, I’m perpetually masturbating in doctor’s offices,” Mike said.

Valerie laughed.

“Can’t stop myself. I have two obsessions – the Captain Crunch and masturbating in doctor’s offices.”

“Ooh, I’m not on your obsession list,” Valerie said.

“Why do you think I masturbate so much?”

“I thought you did this here before,” Valerie said.

“I did,” Mike said. “They had to check motility and health and count and whatever the fuck else.”

“And?” She unzipped his pants.

Mike slapped at her hands.

“I can’t talk to you about jerking off and do it at the same time.”

“Oh, okay.” Valerie leaned back on the love seat.

“As you know, my test results were excellent. I have good fast moving healthy sperm. I told Candy and she was like ‘Oh why don’t you just come over then?’ And…”

“And?”

“I am happy to donate,” Mike said. “I don’t want to be involved.”

“Oh,” Valerie said.

“Kinda grosses me out,” Mike said. “Candy was pissed. Well, you saw how she was at Christmas. Jazmyne came up with this alternative. I give a sample and they will put it in tubes or whatever. Candy and her wife can do what they want to with them.”

“Sounds like you’ve thought this through,” Valerie said. “Why are we here today?”

“You wanted to see the fertility specialist, so I made an appointment for us. You know kill two birds.”

“I took all those blood tests last week,” Valerie said.

“Today is our consultation,” Mike said.

“Oh,” Valerie said. “If we have to do this, will you be grossed out?”

Mike groaned.

“What?”

“If we have to do invitro or whatever, I want to be involved,” Mike said. “It will be my baby.”

“Oh. Good,” Valerie smiled. “Can I help now?”

“I hope so.”

~~~~~~~~

Monday – 12: 36 P.M.

“Hey Jill.” Delphie tried for casual. She didn’t want Jill to know that she’d been pacing in front of the door waiting for her. “How was your first day of school?”

“Exciting!” Jill said. Jill set her books down so she could greet Scooter and Sarah. The dogs wagged and wiggled while she pet them. “I met a couple other people in the interior design program. I have to take a bunch of prerequisites, even though it’s the Art Institute. But they don’t look so hard and Meg’s taking them with me.”

“She’s going for….”

“Fashion design,” Jill said. “Claire Martins has really encouraged Megan to try it. Meg did some of our alterations at the last commercial shoot. And Claire thinks she’s really good! We’re in most of our classes together this year.”

“I’m excited for you.” Delphie hugged Jill.

“Me too!” Jill said. “Last January, I completely gave up on going to school. Of course, I was going for something practical like accounting. And now, here I am. It’s a dream come true.”

“That’s really great.” Delphie smiled. “What are you up to now?”

“I was going to work on Colin and Julie’s place for a couple hours before I pick up Katy. She and Paddie are playing this afternoon while Julie and I look at colors,” Jill said. “My parents and family are coming over tonight. I thought you and Sam were going to the Avenue Theater tonight.”

“We have tickets,” Delphie said.

“What’s up?” Jill asked.

“Jacob told me that you make his powers stronger,” Delphie said.

“He says that,” Jill said. “I don’t really know anything about it. Katy has more vivid dreams when I’m with her, but I think it’s because she feels safer when I’m around. Like she had that dream about Trevor taking her when she was at Megan’s house. When I was there, she had dreams that she would be all right, but she didn’t believe them because she was so afraid of Trevor. Does that make sense?”

“You’re saying that her dreams were more valid…?”

“More complete. Trevor did try to steal her but she was also all right,” Jill said. “She knew that when I was there. Jacob says that his powers are stronger when I’m around but I only know him when I’m around him. You know?”

“I understand what you’re saying,” Delphie said.

“Why do you ask?” Jill realized for the first time that Delphie seemed anxious and upset.

“I’m in some trouble,” Delphie said. “You know that man…”

“Johansen?” Jill asked.

“Yes,” Delphie said. “He has me in a kind of psychic… bind.”

“Can I help?” Jill asked.

“I don’t know,” Delphie said. “Jake says I need to forgive myself for something that happened a long time ago. But….”

“You mean Delbert?”

“You know about that?” Delphie flushed. Her eyes welled with tears.

Jill hugged Delphie.

“How can I help?” Jill asked again.

Delphie sniffled then stepped back.

“I was hoping maybe if I asked Celia for help, and you were here, we could break through the cloud,” Delphie said.

“What about the guilt?” Jill asked.

“I don’t know if I can get rid of it,” Delphie said. “There’s no way around it. I killed a man.”

“You’re not that powerful, Delphie! If you were, you would have saved Celia or Val’s baby or Jacob last summer. Why didn’t you save them?”

“I only know things! I can’t….”

“Right,” Jill said. “Even Jacob can’t control the world. That’s just silly. You’re not God.”

Stunned, Delphie dropped onto the living room couch. Jill’s words hit her one at a time.

You.

Are.

Not.

God.

As if they were a spell written in smoke, the words rotated around her head. She felt Jill sit down next to her and take her hand. Delphie sighed.

“I’m not a Goddess,” Delphie whispered. “And Levi’s not a God.”

“Of course,” Jill said. “We can only live out what life we’re given. We can’t make life happen.”

“Can’t make life happen… I can’t make life happen.” Delphie laughed with relief. “I’m just me. Just a minor oracle.”

“And a major miracle, at least to me! Are you all right?” Jill whispered.

“I’m really good,” Delphie laughed. “Naomi?”

Delphie called Celia by her spirit name and for the first time in months Celia appeared. Delphie’s eyes filled with joyful tears.

“Can you see her?” Delphie asked.

“See who?” Jill asked.

“You’ve saved me.” Delphie hugged Jill. “Bless you Jillian Roper.”

Jill kissed Delphie’s cheek.

“Will you tell Celia that I miss her?” Jill looked around the room.

“She knows,” Delphie said.

“I’ll leave you to enjoy each other.”

Picking up her books and purse, Jill stood up to leave. She was almost to the door when a warm loving sensation overcame her. Jill smiled and tried to return the loving feelings. Shaking her head at how strange and wonderful her life had become, she made her way to her apartment.

~~~~~~~~

Monday - 12:40 P.M

“We’re confused,” Mike said. “Val’s never had regular periods. Especially since she’s been an actress. She’s too thin for that. And with the movie, she’s lost even more body fat.”

“When was your last period, Val?” The doctor asked.

“Boy, I don’t know,” she said. “Last summer some time. I haven’t been eating really.”

“And recently?”

“Well, I found out I lost the movie, so I ate a bunch. Cheesecake. Ice cream. Brownies. That’s why I’m so pudgy now.”

While Mike rolled his eyes, Valerie slapped her flat belly.

“So you didn’t eat anything then you ate a lot of calories,” the doctor said. “That would do it.”

“Do what?” Valerie asked. “What is going on?”

“Oh,” the doctor chuckled to himself. “I didn’t say it?”

“Say what?” Mike asked.

“You’re pregnant,” the doctor said. “Not very. Probably only a few weeks. But pregnant none the less.”

Mike grabbed the doctor by his white coat.

“What’s the sex?” Mike asked.

“Hey settle down.” The doctor dusted Mike off his white coat. “We won’t know for a few months. You don’t have to know. Lots of couples wait until birth to be surprised.”

“We need to know today,” Mike said. “Val can’t have boys. No boys.”

The doctor shook his head as if he didn’t hear correctly.

“We’ll do an ultrasound today and…” the doctor started.

“It’s a genetic thing. Boys in my family have genetic problems,” Valerie said. “Can you do an amnio today?”

“No, it’s dangerous to the….”

“Please,” Valerie said. “My life depends on it.”

~~~~~~~~

Monday – 6:40 P.M.

The Castle

The silence in the dining room was deafening. Sitting between Mike and Jacob, Jill looked from face to face in the room. Easy going, kind, wonderful, loving Steve was a bound up in rage. His pregnant wife, Leslie, kept trying to calm him. Candy and Jazmyne looked like they were ready to bolt at any moment. Mike was so uncomfortable he kept shifting in his chair. Jacob made a few stabs at conversation before he gave up. Even Megan was over focused on her eggplant. Her usually jovial husband Tim was silent.

The elephant in the room?

Mama brought her husband to dinner.

It had to happen some day.

Mama had been in their lives for two months. They spent an amazing Christmas all together. Mama made breakfast for everyone. It was completely perfect in every way. Everyone said they had the best Christmas ever.

And now her husband appeared.

And Steve was furious.

Steve threw his fork onto his plate. His plate shattered with the impact of silver against china. Everyone turned to look at him.

“You killed my father! Stole our mother! Left us orphans to fend for ourselves! And I am supposed to sit down with the psychopath that destroyed my life as if nothing happened.”

“Psychopath?” Anjelika’s husband’s accent was straight out of British colonial Africa. He raised an eyebrow at Steve. “Are you sure?”

“God damn it!” Steve jumped from his chair. With his index finger pointing at the man, he screamed, “We don’t deserve your sarcasm. You have no idea what we’ve been through.”

“And what do you deserve?” the man asked.

“The truth,” Candy’s voice vibrated with emotion. “I want to know what happened to Dad. I’m sorry Mama, but I don’t know this man at all. And Dad…”

Candy sniffed at her tears.

“I cried every night for… for years for Mama and Daddy,” Candy said. “I want to know why… why?”

“He’s did it for money.” Holding his hand out to his wife, Steve said, “A murderer. No more, no less. Come on Leslie. Let’s go.”

“You’re so like your father,” Anjelika’s husband said. “Run away. Go ahead.”

“Now listen,” Mike said. “We’ve had a tough time of it. There’s no reason for you to taunt Steve. Steve, Candy and Jill grew up without parents. Meg and I…”

“Yes, Mikhail, you’re correct,” Anjelika said.

Everyone stopped moving, breathing, when Anjelika spoke.

“I’m so sorry, Angel.” Her husband kissed her cheek. “I lost myself.”

“We must tell them the truth,” Anjelika said. “They are adults. They deserve to know everything.”

Anjelika’s eyes held her husband’s eyes. He gave her a curt nod. For not more than a split second, his eyes shifted to Jill. Jill flushed.

“What? What was that?” Mike jumped to his feet. “Why did you look at Jill? Leave Jill out of this.”

When Jill put her hand on Mike’s forearm, Mike looked down at his sister.

“Please sit down.” Jill said. Leaning around Mike, she said, “Please Steve. Please.”

Steve’s attention jerked to Jill. Seeing her distress, he flushed.

“I’m sorry Jake, I broke your china,” Steve said.

“Actually, it’s my china,” Valerie said. “And that’s all right. Let me get you another plate. Leslie? Tim? Jazmyne? Why don’t we work on dessert while they talk?”

Jacob leaned down to kiss Jill as he got up. He swept the mess of Steve’s dinner onto a tray and carried it into the kitchen.

“Wine?” Jill held up the bottle of wine.

Anjelika’s husband smiled at her. He said something in Russian to her mother. Anjelika chuckled.

“We don’t know what to call you,” Mike said. “And Papa doesn’t really work for us.”

“I’m called Perses,” he said. “Anjelika calls me Pyotr, when she’s angry. Most people call me Peter or Pete. I will answer to any of those names.”

Mike sat down then yanked Steve down into his chair.

“Why did you kill our father?” Mike asked.

“He was dying. I sped the process along,” Perses said. “Some might say it was quite the humanitarian gesture.”

“What?” Candy’s voice echoed over the others.

“Stuff it,” Mike said. “I’ll handle this.”

“You’re not the boss of me,” Steve said. “I say what I want.”

Candy giggled at Steve’s oft stated sentiment. Megan and Mike laughed. Jill joined in when Steve finally laughed. They stopped their tension filled laughter when Mike cleared his throat.

“We don’t understand what you’re saying,” Mike said. “You killed our father.”

“He was not your father, Mikhail,” Perses said. “But, yes, I ended his life.”

“And he was dying?”

“He had an injury to his neck,” Perses said. “Rather than let him bleed to death, I finished him. There would have been no way to save him, even if I’d wanted to.”

“Why wouldn’t you want to save him?” Megan asked.

Mike kicked her under the table. She glared at him.

“He stole my wife, my children. He beat my Anjelika, my children. I am sorry to stay this, Steven. I am. But your father was a cruel, abusive man who did terrible things to people I love.”

Perses and Steve’s eyes held across the table. Steve’s face clouded. He looked away.

“How was he injured?” Mike asked.

“He was injured in the middle of committing an unspeakable act of cruelty.”

“That doesn’t really answer the question,” Mike said. “What…?”

“I shot him,” Jill said.

Denver Cereal continues next week….

~~~~~~~~

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