Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal : Chapter Fifty-One : A very bad day.


The Very Bad Day November 14th - 4:30 AM

“I’m sorry, Jill. I want to understand, but I don’t,” Jacob said.

“Maybe you should try harder.” Jill turned her back on him to look out the window.

“Ok,” Jacob said. He went to her side so that he could see her face. “We picked up our wedding license the morning of Halloween. We were going to surprise everyone at the Halloween party. That’s why we were having such a big party! Then WHAM! All of the sudden, you can’t do it.”

“Well, I can’t,” Jill said.

“There’s fifty billion people around so we can’t talk about it and you haven’t been able to talk about it since!”

Jill shook her head at him.

“Did you change your mind? Do you not want to get married?” Jacob asked. “Or is it that you don’t want to marry me?”

Jill turned to look at him. Her arms crossed over her heart. Her face was closed to him. He’d never seen her so shut down. Her entire manner was a one hundred and eighty degrees from where she had been just two weeks ago. Not sure what to do, he returned to the facts.

“Claire Martins sent, by your words, your amazing wedding dress. She even made, again by your words, an unbelievable dress for Katy. We worked withDelphie for a month to finalize our vows.”


Jacob clenched his jaw to keep from screaming at her. Letting out a breath, he attempted another tack.

“Do you want to marry me?” He asked.

Jill’s face flushed. Her eyes echoed with longing. She nodded.

“Then….” His eyes asked the question.

She turned away from him again.

“Why was it so easy to marry Trevor?” Jacob immediately regretted the words. Incapable of stopping himself, he added, “Would you marry me if I beat you? Belittled you? Cheated on you? Stole your money?”

Jill’s shoulders vibrated with sobs. Unable to contain his anger, Jacob stalked toward the loft door. Jill ran after him. He stopped in place when she grabbed his shoulders. Turning, he saw her exhausted face streaming with tears. His rage and jealousy vanished in the face of her sorrow.

“You have to trust me. Please,” Jill said. “It’s not you. It’s not you. It’s not you.”

He scooped her up to hold her closed.

“You say all those things… and I deserve them,” She said between her sobs. “It’s just complicated. I….”

“You ask me to trust you. But, Jill, you aren’t trusting me,” he said. “Trust me. Tell me what’s going on. If you don’t tell me, my mind goes….”

“But you’re a psychic! Why don’t you ….”

“It doesn’t work like that, Jill,” Jacob said. “No real psychic is any good at predicting their own future. I’m too invested to be impartial. I want you to be my wife. I want to continue to grow our family. Any feedback I get is muddled by my own desires and emotions.”

Jill cried into his shoulder.

“Jake, we’ve got to go,” Sam yelled from the door. “It’s snowing.”

“I’ll be right there,” Jacob said to Sam. Turning back to Jill, he added, “We’ll talk tonight?”

Jill nodded. Almost as an after thought, she pressed something into his hands.

“I love you, Jacob,” Jill said.

He kissed her then hurried after Sam. He stuck the card into his back jeans pocket, grabbed his jacket and ran to Sam’s idling truck.

“We have to figure out whether to close sites or leave them open,” Sam said.

He took off out of the Castle driveway. Turning right on Colfax, he drove as fast as the traffic would allow.

“We have a few sites ahead of schedule,” Jacob said. “Don’t worry, Dad. We’ll make up the time.”

“Time is money, son. Every day we’re behind is another financial projection we haven’t met.”

“It’s like this every Fall,” Jacob said.

“We account for that,” Sam said. “We have to meet our projections this fall or….”

Jacob scowled at the snow. Sam’s ‘or’ was that the board wouldn’t allow him to do what he had spent the last four years working toward. He shook his head.

“I just have this funny feeling about today,” Sam said. “Delphie wished me ‘Good luck’ this morning when I left. THEN she said, ‘This just has to happen’. Scared the crap out of me. You don’t have any….”

“Sorry Dad, I’ve been a little distracted.”


“Ah fuck Dad, I don’t know.”

Jacob’s irritation made Sam laugh. Jacob turned on the radio to listen to the weather forecast. They drove in silence toward the Lipson construction corporate office off of Kalamath and Third Ave. At the office, they were greeted at the door by a sweating, pale Blane.

“I have the weather projections for every site,” Blane said. “We’ll need to close these three at least - County Line, Golden, and Louisville.”

“We can’t close Golden,” Sam said. “We’re four days behind there.”

“No choice,” Blane said. “It’s dumping snow.”

“Fuck,” Sam said.

Jacob touched Sam’s shoulder. They continued their way into Jacob’s office for their morning check in.

“Just a second,” Blane said. He ran into the single toilet restroom.

“How long has he been like that?” Jacob asked Aden.

“All morning,” Aden said. “He’s in the middle of the ribiviron treatment. Heather says it’s expected. But….”

Blane looked even worse when he came out of the bathroom.

“You have to go home,” Jacob said.

“You need me here,” Blane said. “We have to keep this company on target or we won’t be able to sell! We’re already behind and….”

Blane’s anxious words reflected the mood of the entire office. Jacob noticed that the lights were on in every office. The doom laden snow brought every corporate employee to work early this morning.

“Go home,” Jacob said.

Blane sagged. Jacob grabbed him before he hit the floor. Aden took his other arm. Together they negotiated him into an arm chair in Jacob’s office.

“I’ll call Heather,” Aden said as left the office.

“Don’t call her!” Blane protested. “I’ll be fine!”

“Just rest,” Jacob said. “We really need you well.”

“Hey Jake!” Jacob’s company phone squawked. “It’s Honey. I’ve got some bad news.”

“What’s up?” Jacob picked up the phone.

“I don’t have any idea what happened.”

“What do you mean?” Jacob asked.

“Our trench shoring’s slipped over night,” Honey said. “Bambi’s in the trenches now trying to assess the damage.”

“How does trench shoring slip?” Jacob’s voice rose with frustration.

“Don’t yell at me, Jacob Marlowe. I am just the messenger,” Honey said. “You need to take a few breaths there, bro.”

Jacob let out a breath. His loud question drew the corporate employees from their office. They were gathering outside his office. He closed his door in their faces. Aden came in the door as soon as he closed it. Jacob nodded to Aden then turned his back to the door.

“Ok, I’m calm,” Jacob said. “How did that happen?”

“We don’t know,” Honey said. “We’re sending the overnight tape in to you now. We’ve been trying to make up the week we’re behind. Everyone’s been working fast and long hours. I think it’s some combination of the trenches not set right and the snow.”

“How long will it take to fix them?” Jacob asked.

“We’ll need a couple days, Jake. Do you want to talk to Bambi?”

“That’s all right. Did it crush any pipe?”

“No,” Honey said. “We dug the trench and set the shoring last night. We haven’t laid pipe in this section yet.”

“No one was hurt?” Sam said. Surprised, Jake looked up at his father’s voice. Sam had let himself into Jacob’s office.

“Was anyone hurt?” Jacob asked.

“No. It was like this when we got here,” Honey said. “Just so you know, our guys think it’s sabotage.”

“Paranoia always reins supreme,” Jacob said. “Thanks Honey, you’ll let me know.”

“I will,” Honey said.

Turning back to the office, he shook his head at Aden, Sam and Blane.

“Did you close the sites for snow?” Jacob asked Sam.

“I did,” Sam said.

“This is number four,” Jacob said. “We catch up tomorrow or the next day. But this site’s out for a week. They think it’s sabotage.”

“Fuck,” Blane said. His forehead rested on his hand. “I can review the tapes.”

“After you rest,” Sam said.

“Hey Jake,” the box on Jacob’s desk squawked again. A man’s voice repeated, “Jake? Are you there?”

“Yeah, Jerry, I’m here,” Jacob said. “What’s up?”

“Our guys uncovered some remains yesterday afternoon,” Jerry said. “They didn’t tell me because they didn’t want to delay the site.”

“HOLY FUCK, Jerry!”

“I know,” he said. “It looks to me like it’s an entire dwelling. Either early settler but probably some kind of Native thing. I saw it this morning when I walked the site.”

“Have they laid pipe over it?” Jacob asked.

“Yes,” Jerry said. “But not much. We can pull it easy.”

“What happened?” Sam asked.

“Native dwelling at the sewer site out East,” Jacob said.

“Holy fuck is right,” Aden said. “What the hell is going on?”

Jacob held up his hand for the men to be silent.

“Did you make the call, Jerry?” Jacob asked.

“No, the men wanted me to call you first,” Jerry said. “Now I know that we’re real concerned about meeting our goals, but Jacob Marlowe, Lipson’s never ever constructed over a grave. Your mother would have a fit. You cannot ask me to….”

“Okay, Jerry. Okay,” Jacob said. “You’re right. We’re not going to become something we’re not.”

“I don’t want to buy a company….”

“OKAY,” Jacob said.


“Close the site. Call the local cops and we’ll call the museum. I’ll contact the owner.”

“Fine. That’s fine.”

Jerry ended the call.

“How many is that?” Sam asked.

“Three closed for snow. Honey’s site closed because of the trench shoring. Now this,” Aden said. “That’s five.”

“We’re never going to….” Blane said.

Blane clutched his stomach. Sam got Jacob’s trash can under him seconds before he threw up. Blane missed the trash can.

“My office?” Aden asked.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry. Oh my God,” Blane threw up into the trash can.

“Listen, I know this seems really tough,” Sam said. “But we’ve been through tough times before. We can’t let this get us down.”

“Hey Jake,” Jacob’s phone squawked. Jacob looked at the phone debating whether to answer. Sam grabbed the phone from him.

“Hey Georgia, I’m going to leave you on speaker,” Sam said. “What’s up?”

“Remember how we turned the water on at Steele Street yesterday?”

“Yeah,” Jacob said.

“Well, we blew a clay pipe in Country Club.”

“Where?” Jacob asked.

“Circle Drive,” Georgia said.

“Oh fuck,” Aden said.

“These rich folks are pissed off, Jake,” Georgia said. “Tony’d be here to tell you but they are screaming at him. Here….”

The sound of a wealthy homeowners screaming at Tony, the site manager, came through the phone.

“Pissed off,” Georgia said. “What assholes.”

“Did you turn off the water?” Sam asked.

“Yep,” Georgia said. “Just made them madder. At least one homeowner is talking about suing. But it’s not our fault their pipes are ancient. Like a hundred years old.”

“Thanks Georgia,” Jacob said.

“Tony’d like it if Sam came out,” Georgia said.

“We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do today,” Jacob said. “But we’ll get back with you.”

“Thanks Jake,” Georgia said. “You know Tony’s just sick about this. We were on time and on budget. If we have to fix this? And for free? We’re going to take the whole company down.”

“Let’s cross that bridge when we need to,” Jacob said. His hand rubbed at the tightness growing in his chest. “Thanks for letting us know.”

“What’s next?” Aden asked. “It can’t possibly get…”

“DO NOT SAY THAT,” Jacob screamed.

“Jake?” The intercom to Jacob’s office phone squawked with Sam’s administrative assistant’s voice.

“Fuck, always. Things can ALWAYS get worse.”

“Okay, Jacob, okay,” Sam said. “You can’t let this get to you.”

“Yeah?” Jacob said. He pressed his office phone to speaker.

“I’m sorry to bug you,” she said. “But Sam asked me to take your calls since Blane’s sick. There’s a call from your lawyer, Max Hargreaves. He says it’s urgent.”

“Thanks, Can you put him through?”

“Jake?” Max Hargreaves voice asked.

“I put you on speaker because if it’s urgent Aden and Sam need to hear.”

“Hey Sam, Aden. Blane?”

“He’s here,” Jacob said. “What’s up?”

“I had a call from a contact at your bank last night,” Max said. “The banks calling your debt.”

“WHAT?!?” Jacob screamed. “We have two years operating expenses in that bank! We’ve an excellent credit rating!”

“That’s what I said,” Max said. “I wanted to check everything out before I called you. Your contracts specify a week’s notice. But given the ‘national banking crisis’, the bank says that your contract is null and void. They are giving you twenty-four hours to fulfill your debt or, get this, secure it with a tangible property.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Jacob asked.

“They want the Castle,” Max said.


“Listen, Jake, a few of the board members sit on the board at your bank,” Max said. “They’re orchestrating this entire thing.”

“Why would they do that?” Jacob asked.

“Hostile take over, Jake,” Max said.

Without saying another word, Jacob stormed through the crowd of employees outside his office and into the executive restroom. He flipped the lock. He made it to the plastic chair near the sink before falling down.

Gasping for breath, he opened the towel rack where he had stashed his nirtrogylcerine spray. The pain in his chest was unbelievable. He sprayed the nitroglycerine in his mouth and worked to catch his breath.

“Jake?” Sam’s voice said at the door.

“Just a second, Dad,” Jacob said.

“You all right?”

“I just need a moment, Dad,” Jacob said.

He had these episodes off and on since the assault in June. Angina. That’s what the doctor called it. Daily exercise had reduced his angina to the point where he thought he’d kicked it.

He’d never had an episode this bad. He sprayed the nitroglycerine into his mouth one last time before he passed out.


“What’s going on, Sam?” Tres Sierra, their CFO asked.

“We’ve six sites down,” Sam said. “And the banks called our debt. They want to take the Castle from us.”

The corporate employees gasped.

“I’m sorry,” Sam said. “If Celia was here, she’d be angry that I told you.”

“Thanks, Sam,” The head of estimating hugged Sam. She added, “We appreciate your trust.”

Sam nodded then returned to Jacob’s office.

“Well that’s it,” The head of estimating said.

“What are you doing?” Tres asked.

“I don’t know about you, but I started this company in my jeans. My team is changing into our jeans. We’re going to the sites. If we’re going to be owners, we’re going to start acting like them.”

The CFO and controller shared a look.

“I’ll find funding,” Tres said. “I’m the senior corporate officer if Jake, Aden and Sam are gone. I’ll need to stay anyway.”

“I can….”

“I’ll get it done,” Tres said. “Go change. Get the rest of the department. You need to be ready when Jake needs us.”

The rest of the employees nodded.

“One admin stays,” Tres said. “Blane’s ill.”

“I’ll stay,” the receptionist said. “I’ll stay until tomorrow if I have to.”

“Great,” Tres said.

Looking around, he realized everyone was changing their clothing. He went to do the same. If the company was going down, they would go down with their jeans on.


“Mommy, you have to help me.”

Face down on the floor of the executive bathroom, Jacob begged his mother to appear.

“Please. I really need you.”

“I debate with myself whether I should just let you beg,” Celia said. “You know that I’m right here.”

She helped him roll onto his back.

“Mommy.” Jacob wept at the sight of her.

She lifted his head onto her lap. He felt her stroke his hair and face.

“I wish I knew what you want me to do,” he said.

Celia smiled.

“Everything’s wrong. Everything I tried is wrong.”

Celia continued to stroke his hair.

“Tell me, Mommy. What do you want?”

“I want you to be happy, Jacob Marlowe.”

“For your company. What do I do with your company? I’ve tried so hard to make your dream com true. But the board….”

“It’s not my company, Jake,” Celia said.

“What do you mean?”

“My company was run out of our basement. Sure, it grew into an actual office. But you’ve built it into a million dollar company. This isn’t my company, Jake. It’s yours.”

“I’ve been doing all of this for you and Dad.”

“That may be true.” Celia smiled at her only son. “Maybe it’s time you started doing all of this for you.”

“I don’t want this company,” Jacob said.

“Are you sure?” Celia asked. “You seem to work awfully hard at something you don’t want.”

“I love carpentry,” Jacob said.

“Why does it have to be one or the other?” Celia asked. “For that matter, why is ‘normal’ the opposite of psychic?”

“God Mom,” Jacob said. “You know why!”

“Normal for you is being what you are.” Celia stroked his hair. “Why do you have this chest pain?”

“My heart is injured,” Jacob said. “The doctors say it doesn’t work right.”

“Humor me. Ask your heart.”

Jacob closed his eyes. Stretching out his being, he asked his heart as if it was something separate from him.

“I don’t want to give up the company,” Jacob said.

“Yes, it’s your company,” Celia said.

“But I’ve worked so hard to….”

“You don’t have to give up the whole thing, Jake. It’s not all or nothing.” Celia touched his face. “The rest of this… drama? Tell me Jacob Marlowe, why is this happening to your company?”

“So the employees can act like owners and….”


“So I can sort out what I want,” Jacob smiled.

Celia began to fade.

“Don’t go, Mommy! Please don’t go.”

“I’m the voice in your ear if you want listen,” Celia said.

The door of the restroom opened.

“Oh my God,” Sam said. “Get his arm. Blane just told us about the angina.”

Sam and an accountant helped Jacob into the chair.

“Call 911.”

“NO!” Jacob exclaimed. “I’m really all right. I just need a moment.”

“When you’re ready,” the controller said. “We’re ready.”

Jacob looked up.


“If this is our company, we’re going to fight for it,” the head of estimating said. “We’ve changed into our jeans, called our families. We’re working until we’ve set things right.”

Standing, Jacob looked from face to face at the crowd of Lipson construction corporate employees. His face broke out in a smile. He weaved, then found his balance.

“Call all the employees from the snowed out sites….”

“They’re waiting in the parking lot, Jake, “Aden said. “They showed up here to help.”

“We need to find alternative….”

“Tres is looking for alternative funding, Jake,” the controller said.

Jacob stopped short when Celia appeared in front of him.

“Son, look in your back pocket,” she said.

Jacob pulled the postcard from his back pocket. Reading the words, he groaned then laughed. He gave the card to Blane who laughed.

“Let’s get to work.”

Denver Cereal continues next week….


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