Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal : Chapter Fifty-Three : Don't mess with the master


An hour later

Blane lay on the bed with his head in Heather’s lap. He liked communing with the baby. Now that he was so sick, he liked her warm comfort. Plus, he hadn’t thrown up in almost two hours. A major accomplishment he thought.

“Ok,” Heather said. She had been reviewing the site tapes on his laptop. “Here’s the part I think you should look at. We looked at last night, right?”

“Yeah,” Blane said. “Nothing.”

“What’s weird is that Aden and Bambi found the concrete under the shoring,” Heather said. “I reviewed all of yesterday.”

“When did you do that?” Blane asked. He rolled on his side to look at the computer.

“While you were asleep,” Heather said.

“I wasn’t sleeping,” Blane said.

“Uh huh,” Heather said. “You forgot what you’re SUPPOSED to say.”

“Yes, wifey,” Blane said.

They laughed.

“Watch the timestamp,” Heather said.

“You’re going too fast.”

“Ok, slow boy,” Heather slowed down the fast forward. “Right here. See this guy.”

They watched the left head light of a rusted out Jeep Cherokee pull up. The bright white work lights created a line of light and shadow. At four-fifty yesterday afternoon, it was pitch dark except directly under the blazing lights.

A man wearing coveralls and a battered coat came into view. He looked one way then the other. Moving fast, he ran out of view. He returned with open cans of paint which he poured into the trench. He ran out of sight only to return with two more rusted cans.

“That’s weird,” Blane said. “What time was that?”

“Four fifty-three. He’s using the site to dump some kind of industrial waste,” Heather said. “Probably figures it’s safe.”

“Were are our guys?”

“I doubt they could see him in the dark with just the spotlights,” Heather said.

“They shouldn’t have been working when it was so dark.”

“Trying to catch up,” Heather said. “Check out this camera.”

The black and white video showed a man running up to the trench with three or four half filled bags of concrete. He looked up as if he saw something. An excavator roared in the background. The man ran to his Cherokee and took off.

The entire thing lasted less than two minutes.

“Look here,” Heather said.

Blane sat up to see what she was pointing at. Her finger showed the concrete falling in a neat pile along the edge of the trench. Heather clicked to another camera and they saw a cloud of white powder drop against another edge of the trench.

“Is that enough to do it?” Heather asked.

“Not in normal circumstances,” Blane said. “I mean, we’ll have to have Jake and Sam look at this. You’ve got two piles of concrete in two areas. Our guys are working fast and in the dark. Yeah, that might do it.”

“What do you do?”

“Beside worship the wifey?” Blane laughed.

“That’s a given,” Heather said.

“We call Jake and Sam,” Blane said. “After they see this, we call the police.”

“Do you think someone did it on purpose?”

“It’s certainly intentional. This guy didn’t accidentally spill all of this junk into the trench,” Blane said. “But it’s not sabotage.”

“That’s good news,” Heather said.

“That’s very good news,” Blane said. “Thanks. You’re awesome.”

“Eh, what’s a wife for?”


“Yeah? You don’t know many married men.”

“Hey, if I was married to Ashton Kutcher, I’d screw him regularly!”

“But would you call him ‘wifey’?” Heather laughed.

“Good point,” Blane said. “Thanks Heather. This is fabulous. We’ve got the license plate number and everything. We can just give it all to the police.”

“I’m glad I could help.”

Blane lay back down on her lap.

“I’d screw Ashton Kutcher regularly too,” Heather said.

Blane laughed.


Tres Sierra, the CFO, rubbed his face to keep from crying. He had contacted every bank and banker in Denver. All he learned was that their bank was well within their rights to call the debt. In fact, he heard banks were doing it to everyone, then charging huge fees to keep what little credit available flowing.

Fuckers. His mind flashed through images of firebombing their bank.

“Hey,” a man stuck his head in the controller’s office. “I came to see Jake, but…. Where is everyone?”

“Working,” Tres’s firebombing rage spilled over into his demeanor.

“Don’t want to interrupt work,” the man said. “I wanted to drop off the Avs tickets for Jake. Does he really have a girlfriend?”

“Avs tickets?”

“We share season tickets for the Avalanche. Hockey? He takes half. I think he goes with Mike but I heard he has a girlfriend.”

“He shares tickets with a venture capitalist friend of his Mom’s,” Tres said.

“Celia was more than a friend to me. She saved my life,” the man said.

“You probably feel like you’re in her debt,” the CFO said.

“In her debt? I owe her everything. She even gave me the loan that started my business.”

“Venture capitalists loan money to companies.”

“Sort of,” the man said. “Listen, maybe I should….”

“I have a crazy question,” Tres said. “Would you secure some debt for us?”


“Lipson Construction.”

“What are you talking about?”

Tres laughed.


3:30PM - Smiley Middle School

“Who’s that?” The new boy pushed Nash Norsen’s shoulder.

“My friend, Sandy,” Nash said. He waved to Sandy who waved back.

“She looks like a hooker.”

“Yeah, like you know what a hooker looks like. I think she’s beautiful,” Nash’s best friend Tommy said. “Hey Sandy”

Sandy waved to Tommy.

“Shut up, she’s my Dad’s girlfriend,” Nash said.

He ran down the steps to where Sandy and Noelle waited for him. He hugged Sandy. She put her arm around his shoulder as they walked to Aden’s car.

“Where’s Dad?” Nash asked.

“There’s been a MAJOR problem at work, Nash,” Noelle said. “We’re going with Sandy to her work.”

“What happened?” Nash asked.

“I think it’s more like what didn’t happen,” Sandy said. “Are you Ok to come with me? I was going to cut your hair in between. You can stay with me tonight.”

“Did your shop ever fix their website?”

“No,” Sandy said. “Could you…?”

“Not a problem.” Nash stood a little taller with the idea that he might actually be able to help.

“Are you hungry? Your Dad packed some snacks for you, but I thought we could just order a pizza.”

“PIZZA!” Noelle said.

“Front seat!” Nash yelled then ran to the car.

“You always get the front seat….” Noelle ran after him.

Shaking her head, Sandy walked past a man coming to pick up his son. He looked at Sandy, then did a double take. Embarrassed, Sandy put on her sunglasses then ran to catch up with the kids.


4:30 PM - Bambi’s water site

“Don’t mess with the master!” Valerie yelled from on top of a excavator.

The crowd of Lipson employees cheered as she set the last steel shoring in place. After the police collected what they needed, Valerie helped the team pull all the shoring out. She instructed the team to dig the junk out of the trench.

When they were ready, she insisted on setting the trench shoring herself. Sitting on top of a excavator, covered in mud, Valerie was every bit her mother’s daughter. She worked with practiced efficiency.

“Damn I forgot how fun this is!”

“You want a job?” Bambi asked.

“She has one,” Honey pointed to the rows of photographers.

“When did they get here?” Valerie turned the excavator around and drove back to their storage area.

Jumping out of the excavator, she was surrounded by Lipson employees. The employees formed wall of bodies in front of the photographers. Valerie looked from face to face.

“Thanks,” Valerie said. “After my initial panic, I…. I’m a Lipson girl. Fuck it if the world knows.”

The employees laughed. Bambi ran up to Valerie.

“We can ….”

“Let’s walk the site, Bambi,” Valerie said. “If they want to take photos, that’s got to be all right.”

Bambi laughed then hugged Valerie. With a bevy of paparazzi on their tail, Valerie, Bambi, Honey and the assistant site managers walked the entire site. She found Mike waiting for her at the construction trailer. Like magic, she disappeared to Mike’s old Bronco.

“I had the greatest afternoon,” Valerie said.

She climbed into his lap. With the steering wheel pressed against her back, she kissed his lips. He sighed in her embrace.

“Jake was right,” Valerie said. She brushed the dirt she’d transferred from his face.

Mike shook his head to clear it.

“About what?” He managed.

“We’re not one thing or the other,” Valerie said. “I’m not a Lipson girl or an actress. I’m just me. And just me had the BEST time this afternoon. What did you work out?”

“We’re on,” Mike said.

“We’re going to have so much fun!”

Valerie clapped her hands then climbed back into the passenger seat. Mike started the car. Before he put the car in gear, Valerie climbed back into his lap.

“I love you Mike,” she said.

She was about to kiss him again when they heard running feet. The paparazzi had caught up with them. She moved back to her seat and Mike took off toward the Castle.

“Home?” She asked.

“Uh huh.”

“To work?”

“Something like that,” he said.

“Drive fast.” She clipped her seat belt.



p align=”center”>The next day 2:59 AM, Pete’s Kitchen

After crying all day, Jill stumbled through her shift at Pete’s. She was certain her relationship with Jacob was over. She’d never endanger her mother by having her come to Denver. So that was that.

As if she hadn’t had a hard enough day, everyone at Pete’s avoided her. She felt like she had a giant X on her forehead.  Even though it hurt her feelings, she told herself that she was a model now. She didn’t have to work here.

Even Meg was weird when she called to check on Katy. Meg was so strange on the phone she decided her sister was angry with her.

And Tanesha hadn’t come in. Tanesha worked like four jobs to keep her grandma’s house out of foreclosure. The only time Jill saw her friend was in the wee hours of the mornings at Pete’s. Jill looked for Tanesha’s shoulder to cry on. But tonight, she never came.

No matter.

If she was done with Pete’s, done with Jacob, done with her stupid siblings, she’d just move. Maybe she’d move to Paris where Claire Martins lived or Costa Rica to see Mom or London or Istanbul.

“Do you know what language they speak in Turkey, Joe?” She set down Joe’s regular breakfast.


Jill scowled. She didn’t speak Turkish.

Lost in thought, she scrubbed the counter. After all, it was her last night in Denver. She’d need a good reference in….

Dubai! She’d heard there was a lot of jobs in Dubai. Someone said they speak English there. She could probably get an office job in Dubai. Yeah, Dubai. Jill smiled to herself. She’d move to Dubai.

She just wasn’t sure where Dubai was.

Looking up, she saw Jacob through the windows. He’s probably walking home from some OTHER girl’s house. She scrubbed the counter with all her might.

“Hi,” Jacob said. “You look very busy.”

“God, Jacob, you smell,” Jill said.

“Sorry,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to shower. It’s been an awful day.”

“Yeah?” Jill tried for cold. He had emailed her, called six times and sent her about fifty texts. She paid no attention. If he wanted to break up with her, he was going to have to do it in person. “Excuse me.”

She went to refill coffee at her tables. When she got back to the counter, he was no where in sight.


“He’s in the bathroom cleaning up,” another server said as she walked by. “He said you should wait for him.”

She went to the back to clock out. She had packed a small bag of her possessions so she could go to Sandy’s house after her shift. She would move the rest of her things tomorrow when she didn’t have to work. Coming from the back, she saw Jacob waiting for her.

“Carry your bag, Miss,” he asked.

“Listen, you don’t have to be so nice to me,” she said. “I know what’s going on.”

“What’s going on?”

“You’re breaking up with me because I can’t marry you.”

“I am?”

“Well, I saved you the trouble. I’m moving in with Sandy. In fact, I’m staying there tonight.” Seeing his amused face, she pressed on. “I’ll move Katy and my things tomorrow. You won’t ever have to worry about me or Katy again. You can go to your fancy parties with your new girlfriend.”

“My new girlfriend?”

“Right,” Jill nodded at her own logic. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bus to catch.”

Jacob grabbed her arms and kissed her lips. Shocked, Jill sputtered.

“Do you want to marry me?” He asked. “Or do you want to move to Dubai?”

“How did you….?”

“Psychic.” He pointed at his chest.

“That’s very rude.”

“You’re right. It’s very rude,” he said. “Is it as rude as not answering your boyfriend’s pages or phone calls?”

“I’m not going to make this easy for you,” Jill said. Sticking her defiant chin out, she added, “If you want to break up with me, you have to do it in person.”

He looked away from her then shook his head.

“You’re the most impossible person I’ve ever met,” he said.

“Well, you’re….”

He kissed her again.

“Do you want to marry me?”

Her eyes searched his face. She nodded. He stepped back. Holding his hand out he said:

“Come with me.”

Denver Cereal continues next week….


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