Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal - Chapter Forty-Four : Marbles


Two days later 5:30 AM

“Good morning.”

Jacob leaned over to kiss Jill awake.


Jill rolled onto her back. He slid into her arms to nuzzle her neck.

“Did you come to bed last night?” She asked.


He pulled at her white t-shirt. She leaned up so he could take it off.

“Wow, third night in a row. Should I worry?”

His response was muffled by a mouth full of her left breast. She lifted her head to look at him. Feeling her movement, his eyes moved to her face. Her concerned eyes caused him to let go. He rolled to the bed.

“What would you worry about?”

“Out all night with your buddies again?”

“Oh God, Jill. First, we’re in the middle of nowhere. Secondly, the board members are hardly my buddies. Fuck. I think they hate me. Where did Dad find these stupid old stodgy assholes?”

Jill shifted on top of him.

“So I should only worry when we aren’t in the middle of nowhere and you ARE with your buddies?”

She kissed him.

“You, my dear.” He slid her panties off. His hands clamped her behind. “Should never worry about my fidelity. I am yours - mind, body and soul. Just not my money.”

“Are you saving that for another?”

“I’m not sure I have any,” he said. “I am glad I have a wealthy model for a wife.”

“You’re married?”

He flipped her under him.

“I love you,” he said. He kissed her. His lips began an easy trip down her neck and back to her beloved breasts. “I’ve neglected this side.”

“What happened to your wealth, rich guy?”

“You’re naked,” he said.

“You spent your wealth on my nakedness?”

“If I tell you, will you undress me?” He asked.

“I have. Every morning, every evening and sometimes at lunch,” she said. “You’ve been naked almost every child free moment.”

“It’s been a great week. I think I’ll cry when we get on the plane tonight.” Rolling to back to the bed, he continued, “As you know, we’ve been arguing over the sale of the Lipson Albatross to its employees.”

“The Board is against even the idea of it,” Jill said.

“Yes, the BOARD wants to keep all the marbles to their rich entitled selves,” Jacob spit out. “Fuckers.”

Jill rolled over to stroke his face. He smiled at her.

“My father and I agreed to forgo salaries for this year, refund the salaries we have already taken, in order to give Lipson additional resources to meet it’s projections this quarter. If Lipson meets it’s projections the last quarter of 2008, the Board will allow the sale to begin. But if Lipson does not meet it’s projections, the Board wants to hold off the sale ‘until things straighten out with the economy especially if that man’, meaning that black man, ‘wins the Presidency.’”

Jill snorted. “You’ll have to add bigots to your list.”

“You know who they want me to sell it to?”

“Them,” she said.

“Oh, you heard that last night?” Jacob asked. “I can’t believe the chairman disrupted our dinner to tell me that if I ‘wanted out so badly’ the board would buy it.”

“I thought you were going to hit him.”

“When I was a kid? If someone interrupted dinner for work, my Dad would have hit them.” Jacob shook his head. “Did you see him get up and start to come over?”

“Sam? Yeah, he did look pissed.”

“No business at dinner. We work enough,” Jacob said. “I must have heard that a thousand times growing up. And they did work enough.”

“Will you sell to the board?”

“No way. It’s my Albatross. I’ll just keep it. God, they piss me off,” Jacob said. 

“Listen mister, you have a child to support,” Jill said in her mock stern voice.

“I also have another job,” he said.

“Won’t the rehab business slow down?” She asked.

“Probably,” he said. “We’ll live on love.”

“I’m serious,” she said.

“You are?”

“Sort of.”

His sigh bounced off her naked skin.

“We grow most of the food we eat,” he said. “We own the Castle out right. Mom bought if for like twelve dollars. The Castle is solar powered with solar heat. Outside of maintenance, our daily expenses are very low. I also have a number of stable investments including your old apartment building. And, I do well in the rehab business. I have at least two projects that are already funded for next year. And two funded projects which you will help me finish this year. Val and I also just had ten million dollars returned to us from our step-sisters. In case you forgot, you’re under contract with an established French designer that’s just starting to gain exposure in the States.”

“What about Honey?”

“Is that what worries you?” He asked.

“Well everything, I guess. The girls and I were watching the news and…. It’s just a scary time.”

“You’ve always done it alone,” he said. “This one, we’ll do together.”

“And if the sky falls?” She asked.

“We’ll run out of Captain Crunch. We’ll still eat what we grow, have heat, and power. We’ll throw the doors open and invite everyone to come live with us like a big commune.”

“Jacob?” Jill asked.

“Yes, my love.”

“Is the sky going to fall?”

“No, but things will change. The process of the change may be painfully hard, but it’s necessary too.”


“What will ease your mind, Jill?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

She got up. Pulling on her t-shirt and panties, she stood with her back to him looking out at the trees. He came up behind her to hold her in a hug.

“I love you,” he whispered in her ear.

She smiled.

“Look at me,” he said.

She turned around but did not look up into his eyes.

“I will always take care of you. Even if we have nothing, I will be here, every day, to work at your side to meet our goals. I like to work. I’ve always worked. I will work for you, for our children and our family, every day of my life.”

Her head jerked up to meet his eyes.

“You’re not alone any more,” he said.

“Oh Jacob,” she whispered.

He started taking his clothing off.

“Taking your own clothes off?” She asked.

“I’m doing the work,” he said. “Come back to bed.”

Smiling, she went back to bed to let him work.


“Oh come on,” Honey said through her rough breath. She was practicing her wheelchair skills by ‘going for a walk’ around the neighborhood of Craig Hospital. MJ was angry with her so they were moving at a steady clip. “You know you want to.”

“That’s not the point,” MJ said. Taking the hand rests of her wheelchair, he helped her over the curb.

“I watched you with the sex doctor. When she talked about all the sexy stuff we could still do, you were turned on.”

“That’s not the point, either,” MJ said.

Using her palms, Honey stopped short and turned slightly in front of him.

“Hey, that’s pretty good,” MJ said.

“I’ve been practicing,” Honey said. “What is the point?”

“You KNOW what the point is,” MJ said.

“We were always sneaking around when we were together before. Even when you were pissed off, you couldn’t keep your hands off me,” Honey said. “You say I taste the same….”

“You do.”

“And you don’t care about how fucked up I am now.” Honey grinned her sweet seductive smile.

“You’re still incredibly hot even though you’re paralyzed, have scars and all of that.”

“I’m getting a complex.”

“You are giving yourself a complex,” MJ said.

“I clearly missed some point,” she said. “Humor me. What was the point I missed?”

“Why won’t you marry me?”

“Oh, that.” Honey started wheeling again.

“I almost died, Honey. You almost died. I don’t want to fool around, mess around, or even get laid. I want to marry you. I want to spend whatever time I have left with you. I want to be the father of your children, have a home, raise a family and love you every single day for the rest of our lives.”

Honey wheeled faster until he had to jog to keep up.

“Stop,” he said.

Groaning to himself, he grabbed Honey’s handgrips and pulled her to a stop.

“That’s very rude,” she said.

“Speak to me,” he said. “You won’t talk to me about this. You either pretend the connection is bad on the phone or the video went out or you run away. I know you love me. Why won’t you marry me?”

Even with limited mobility in her arms, Honey crossed her arms in such a way that made her seem completely inaccessible. She looked away from him.

“Talk. To. Me.”

“I don’t run away. I wheel.”

“Talk. To. Me.”

“I have an infection that they can’t seem to get.”

“All the more reason to marry me. Today even,” MJ said.

“You’re being crazy.”

“Plus I already knew about the surgery and the infection. You’re going in for exploratory surgery on Monday, right? Our whole team’s scheduled to be here all week so that I could be here when you have the surgery. The infection is not the reason you won’t marry me.”

She shook her head.

“Talk. To. Me.”

“I don’t have any idea what my life will be like, MJ. I don’t know where I’ll live or how I’ll get around or even what I’ll do all day. I need someone to care for me at least three hours in the morning and at night. You’re the only person I’ve ever been able to stand in the morning. This person has to touch me! For seven or eight hours a day! I need to be tilted so I don’t get sores. And that’s if I survive the surgery and manage to beat the infection.”

“And? What’s the problem, Honey? We will work this out together.”

Honey tried to start wheeling again. He held her chair in place.

“Talk to me.”

Honey’s eyes filled. She shook her head and looked away again. He kneeled down to her.

“What is it? Honey, we’ve been to hell and back and everywhere in between. Talk to me.”

“It’s all new, MJ. New everything. I can’t be your wife because I’m not me. Or I don’t know what me is except for some drooling cripple who can’t even wipe her own ass.”

He clutched her to him to stop her rage filled words against herself.

“You are the most beautiful person I have ever known,” he said. “Inside and out. You are the light of my every moment. The corner of every smile. The first and last thing I think about before I go to sleep. You have been since I was seventeen years old and you were just a scrap of a kid trying to survive.”

“I’m totally fucked up, MJ.”

“Fine. Ms Totally Fucked Up, will you marry me?”

“Why do you want to marry someone as broken and fucked up as me?”

“Because I want to be a part of your next rebirth. Because I want you to be the mother of my children. Because I want to die in your arms. Because I don’t want to live without you.”

“Oh God, MJ,” Honey said.

“Do you feel any of that for me?”

Honey nodded.

“Then let’s at least talk to a priest,” MJ said.

“You don’t think you have Florence Nightingale syndrome?”

MJ laughed.

“I’m serious.”

“No. I love you. I’ve loved you most of my life. I was just too stupid and vain to realize it. It took a bomb to even make me notice how I feel and your sister’s insanity to make it real. And for that, I’m very sorry.

“I’m sorry I was such an asshole. I’m sorry for all the wasted time. I’m sorry we fought so much. I’m sorry I had such a huge ass chip on my shoulder.”

MJ shifted back to look into Honey’s pale blue eyes.

“My father died and I never really knew him. After he was murdered, I learned how much he loved and sacrificed for my sister, brother and me. He used to say that we were his whole life. I just never believed him. I wasted a lot of time being mad at him. More than anything, I missed my chance to have him as my father and my friend. I don’t want to miss my chance with the person who matters the very most to me in the whole world - you.

“Please Honey, will you marry me?”

Honey nodded.

“I’m taking that as a yes. Please say it.”

“Yes, Michael Scully, Jr. I will marry you.”


“You’ll have to change your name.”

“To what?”

“Mr. Totally Fucked Up.”

“Sergeant Totally Fucked Up. But ok, how about tomorrow?”

“Don’t push it.”


6:45 PM ET

“How far along are you?” Jill said into Heather’s ear.

They were seated in together in the Lipson Company jet. Jacob, Sam, Aden, Blane and the Board members were wrapping up details in the meeting area. Sandy and Nash were locked in a competitive game of Grand Theft Auto. Delphie, Noelle and Katy were baking cookies in the plane’s little kitchen. Tanesha hated to fly so she took a sleeping pill and was fast asleep next to Heather.

Yanking on her shirt, Heather’s face registered shock.

“I just know the signs,” Jill said. To keep other’s from hearing her, she continued to talk in Heather’s ear. “Don’t worry. No one knows.”

Heather nodded.

“This is from the party?” Jill asked.

Heather nodded.

“And the father?” Jill asked.

Heather looked at Jill. She shook her head, then dissolved into tears. Leaning over, she spoke in Jill’s ear.

“I found out, you know, about the baby. I didn’t want to tell him on the phone. I called him and he was like ‘Come out! Come out! Come out!’. He paid for my ticket, picked me up at the airport, wine, dined, danced, amazing sex, the whole nine. He had plans for the whole weekend. Said I was the best thing that ever happened to him. I told him the next morning at breakfast?”

Heather had been speaking so quickly that she had to gulp for breath.

“He looked at me, said, ‘Excuse me’, stood up and left. The restaurant. He left me sitting there thinking he was in the bathroom. He didn’t even pay for lunch. I sat there like a fool for an hour. When I tried to call him? Number changed. I took a cab back to his building, you know? The doorman gave me my overnight bag and told me to ‘vacate the premises or he would call the cops.’ I…. I thought I found my prince, like you found Jacob. But…. Heather doesn’t get a prince. I had to sleep at the airport.”

Jill hugged Heather.

“When I got home, I told Mom about what happened and stuff. She told me I got what I deserved. She told me to have an abortion and grow up.” Heather pushed back from Jill. “She took me to the clinic. I kept thinking about Katy and I couldn’t go through with the abortion. Mom kicked me out. I’ve paid rent since I was sixteen years old and she kicked me out! She won’t speak to me. I’ve been couch surfing ever since. I thought I could stay with Sandy but she has Aden’s kids once a week. Of course, she’s happy to have me stay but I don’t want to get in the way. Especially with a baby.”

“Do you have insurance?”

Heather shook her head. Jill looked up to see Jacob, Blane, Aden and Sam coming toward them.

“The state eliminated the program you had, Jill. I haven’t been to the doctor.”

“Heather, you have to go!”

“I’ve been taking the vitamins and eating well. I’m not drinking alcohol or caffeine. What will they tell me?”

“Oh Heather!” Jill said. Jacob leaned over to kiss Jill. “Jacob, Heather needs a place to live. Can she stay at the Castle?”

“Of course,” Jacob said. “There are a couple apartments ready.”

“She can stay with me,” Blane blurted out then blushed bright red. To avoid looking at Heather, he picked up Katy who came running toward them holding cookies. “Sorry that was none of my business.”

Blane helped Katy pass out the cookies.

“Are you moving in with my Uncle Blane, Auntie Heather?” Katy beamed as she gave Heather a cookie.

“I don’t know why not,” Jacob said. “It’s a good idea, really. Heather can help you with your upcoming meds round. You wouldn’t have to move in with us.”

Blane nodded. “I mean, you haven’t known me since I was ten or whatever, so I would understand if it seemed weird…. But I thought we got along great this week. Can you cook?”

“Spaghetti,” she said.

“Ok, I’ll cook. How about clean?”

“Fastidious,” Heather and Jill said together.

“Great. You can clean. I know I’m gay and all but I’m not at all fastidious,” Blane said. “Would you mind helping me?”

“I took the classes to be a Nurse’s Assistant but I hated touching people I didn’t know,” Heather said. “Are you going to do Ribavirin? Sorry, I heard you and Jacob talk about having Hep C and AIDS.”

“I’m healthy enough to try to kick the Hep C,” Blane said.

“I’ve done that before,” she said. “I’d be happy to help you, even if I don’t stay with you.”

“Wow,” Blane said. “Do you care if I’m gay?”

“No,” Heather said. “Do you care if I’m pregnant?”

At that moment, it seemed like every ear and eye turned to look at Heather. Sandy touched Nash, set her video game controller down, to come over to hug Heather.

“I wondered when you’d tell us,” Sandy said. “Did your Mom kick you out?”

Heather nodded.

“You and the baby always have a room at my house.”

“I love babies,” Blane said. “I don’t think I’d ever get the chance to be around an infant again. When I was in foster care, they would leave me with the babies because I loved them so much. I mean, I’m not a perv or anything. Sam loves babies too.”

Jacob laughed at Blane. Blane’s head turned from Heather to Jacob. He smiled at Jacob’s open mocking of him.

“Heather doesn’t have insurance,” Jill said. “Can you fix that Jacob?”

“She can go on my plan. We have partner benefits at Lipson,” Blane said. “Sorry, I’m not usually this impulsive. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Don’t tell my boss. Ok? Or the board.”

Jacob patted him on the back. Blane’s eyes scanned Jacob’s beaming face. They laughed.

“This is what you meant, isn’t it? Family.”

“Yes, this is what I meant. Loving will come.”

“Love is coming in male form, right? You didn’t make me straight, did you?”

“I’m not God,” Jacob laughed.

Puzzled, the women watched the men talking.

“I’ll pay rent. I have a good job,” Heather said. “I work hard and can take a second job. I also like to garden - vegetables and flowers. I’m no freeloader.”

“We’ll all chip in for the baby,” Sandy said. “Tanesha will be all over this when she wakes up.”

“Sam and Jacob bought the house for me,” Blane said. “I don’t have a mortgage. It’s not huge, maybe fifteen hundred feet. There’s three small bedrooms upstairs. We, meaning Jacob, haven’t finished the basement, so there’s that. It’s a couple blocks from the Castle. If you can help with the utilities, which is just gas for the kitchen, because we have solar. But you could…. “

“What?” Heather asked.

“Well, make it nice,” he said. “I just kind of camp out there. It’s like base camp. I go to work, come home. Go to school, come home. The gym, hockey, you know camp out there. I like to cook so the kitchen’s all right but it’s not nice.”

“I’ll get colors and fix it up. I’m working on a couple of Jacob’s rehabs so I can do your house at the same time,” Jill said. “That will be fun.”

Heather looked at Jill, then Sandy. The women looked at Blane together. Blane was looking at Katy.

“You’re going to be the baby’s Daddy,” Katy said. “Do you mind if it’s a boy?”

Shushing Katy, Jill stood to take Katy from Blane.

“It’s all right, Jill. I’m used to the psychic thing,” Blane said. “What do you say, Heather?”

“Let’s try it. If it doesn’t work, I can do something else but….” Her eyes welled with tears. “This is the happiest I’ve felt since he left me at the restaurant.”

“And who was that?” Sam’s face was set in anger.

Heather shook her head.

“Looks like it doesn’t matter, Dad,” Jacob said. “Blane’s going to be a Dad.”

Katy clapped her hands. Sandy hugged Heather again. Standing to give Blane her seat, Jill leaned to kiss Jacob.

“You’re a psychic too. Aren’t you?” She asked him.

“Like my mother and my daughter,” he said. “That’s what Katy and I have been doing mid-morning. Meditating together.”

“I knew you were meditating. I mean, I’ve seen you but….” Jill fumbled for words. “What do you see for us?”

“Babies!” Katy exclaimed.

Jill looked at Katy then at Jacob. He laughed.

“You’ll get used to it, Jill,” Sam said. “Now I heard there were cookies? I need to wash the bitter pill taste from my mouth.”

“From Heather?” Jill asked. “Heather’s one of the best people I’ve ever known…. I….”

“He means the board,” Jacob said.

“Cookie?” Delphie asked.

“Just in time,” Sam said. “See Jill, you’ll get used to it.”

As Jill and Katy moved past Sam to the bathroom, Sam said in her ear, “You never get used to it.”

Delphie slapped at him and he laughed.



p align=”center”>Hollywood, CA 3:35 PM PT

“Should we call Jacob? Delphie?” Mike asked.

He set a cup of tea down for her. They were sitting at the small kitchen table in her Hollywood Hills home.

“Nah,” Valerie laughed. “They like surprises, plus we won’t be home for another week.”

Mike’s eyes scanned her face. His big hand covered hers and she looked up into his eyes.

“Are you doing this for me?” He asked.

“Having you with me every day highlights how my life doesn’t work. For me.” Valerie looked down at her tea. “Did you know that I still own the house in Monterrey?”

“WHAT?!? Let’s go there!”

“It’s managed by a company up there. They rent it out. It’s rented now by someone who works at the Aquarium. I haven’t been back since….”

He stroked her face. She nodded to her tea, then looked up into his eyes.

“I want to sell this house and be done with it,” she said.

“I thought we….”

“I can live anywhere I want now,” she said. “If I want to come back to LA, to the soap, I’ll rent.”

“Or WE’LL buy another home.”

She smiled.

“Love you, Mike.”

“When does the movie start?” He asked.

“Next January,” she said. “Why?”

“Hockey season,” they said together.

She laughed.

Denver Cereal will continue next week….


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