Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal - Chapter One Hundred and Twelve : Found family


Monday evening — 6:45 P.M. MDT

“Ok,” Valerie said. “Let’s go through it one more time.”

She and Delphie stood in a bathroom at DIA. They kept getting interrupted as women wanted to take Valerie’s picture or get an autograph. Valerie laughed and introduced Delphie to them.

“They’re going to put me in the plastic cage,” Delphie said. “They have to because of what happened before. But you’ll be there.”

“I will,” Valerie said.

“Right,” Delphie straightened her back. “I can do this.”

Valerie hugged Delphie tight to her.

“You didn’t have to come all this way,” Delphie said.

“Yes, I did,” Valerie said. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here to help the first time.”

“What did the movie people say? What about Mike?”

“Mike was ready to champion his Delphie!” Valerie laughed. “And the movie people flew us here to help. We’ve all been through this with TSA. Everyone has some awful experience. They wanted me to help if I could. Especially since it’s my fault.”

“Your fault? How?” Delphie asked.

“I forgot to tell you that the fancy Italian bras set off the metal detectors.”

“I mostly never wear one,” Delphie said.

“You have since your stroke,” Valerie said.

“I have,” Delphie smiled. “I wonder why.”

Valerie laughed.

“We’re all treated like cattle now,” a woman said to Delphie. “Don’t let them get to you.”

“Thanks,” Delphie nodded to the woman. “My Valerie’s going to help me this time.”

“Good for you,” the woman nodded to Valerie and walked out of the restroom.

“Are you ready?” Valerie asked.

“Ready,” Delphie said.

They walked out of the restroom to meet a very worried Sam and Mike. Sam held Delphie close.

“Are you sure you’re up to this?” Sam asked.

“We had every scan in the world,” Delphie said. “It was just stress and all these new meds I’m on.”

Sam looked over Delphie’s shoulder at Valerie and she winked at him.

“Remember Jake said we didn’t…,” Sam started.

“I want to do this,” Delphie said. “I want to be the girl who can fly anywhere. What will I do when Val has her baby? If I can’t fly, I won’t ever see her.”

“Ok, ok,” Sam said. “Let’s get in line.”

Taking her hand, Sam and Delphie walked behind Mike and Valerie toward the A concourse. They took the long moving sidewalks to the inevitable security line. Valerie turned around at the line.

“How come you’re not doing your psychic defense?” Valerie whispered.

“Psychic defense?” Delphie whispered back.

“You know, suit of light? Or the circle of white light?” Valerie asked. “You taught me to do it when I was teased in grade school.”

“I… I forgot,” Delphie said. “But you’re right. That’s what happened. I got flooded.”

Without much effort, Delphie breathed in white light and allowed it to fill the space around her body. She smiled at Valerie when her suit of light was in place.

“Here we go,” Sam said.

He gave their boarding passes to the officer at the gate. The man took a look at them. Valerie touched his arm. He flushed at her movie star smile.

“She’s never ever flown before,” Valerie said. “Is there a way to get a little special care?”

“We have a notice about her here,” the man said. “I guess there was an incident this morning?”

“That’s all right,” Valerie said. “We know you need to do your job.”

Delphie went through the scanners and was waved into the plastic corral. Valerie went behind her and the machine went off. Within moments, Valerie was behind the clear plastic corral. People stopped to take her picture. She waved and posed. A few minutes later, Julie Hargreaves joined them in the corral.

“I always forget about the bra thing,” Julie said. “Hi Val, Delphie.”

“I thought Colin said you were leaving this afternoon,” Delphie said.

“We changed our flight,” Julie said. Leaning forward, she whispered, “We didn’t want to miss out on the fun.”

“Show the baby bump,” a man yelled from outside the plastic corral.

The passengers turned to look as Valerie stuck out her belly for the camera. The man took three pictures from his iPhone. Passengers began digging through their bags to take photos of Valerie in the corral. The TSA officers started pushing people to get them to move along. A frantic call came over the intercom for a female TSA officer.

“Wave to Paddie and Colin,” Julie said.

They waved to the little boy and his father as they walked by the plastic corral.

“It’s kind of warm in here,” Valerie said. “Do we know why were on display?”

Looking at Valerie, Delphie laughed.

“Colin said they have to have a woman scan us,” Julie said. “That’s why it takes so long. There aren’t a lot of women officers.”

People continued to stop for Valerie. She posed and laughed. After ten minutes, a woman appeared. The woman looked at Delphie then Valerie. Her eyes stopped at Julie. The TSA officer’s eyes flicked from Valerie to the woman who’d stopped to take her photo on the other side of the plastic. The officer laughed.

“One at a time,” she said.

“Ok, we’ll be right here,” Valerie said.

Within minutes, they found Sam, Mike, Colin and little Paddie. Julie picked up Paddie. They were on their way toward the plane.

“And that’s that,” Valerie said. “Pretty easy.”

“What will I do next time?” Delphie asked.

“I’ll come and get you,” Valerie said.

“What about when the baby comes?” Delphie asked.

“We’ll work it out,” Valerie said.

Delphie linked elbows with Valerie and they walked to the concourse. Mike and Valerie waited for them until they were on the plane. Sam and Delphie took their seats in first class. Delphie leaned back into the seat. She’d finally done it. She was on her way to Mexico.


Tuesday morning — 8:35 A.M. The Castle

“How come you’re not at school?” Charlie asked. “Nash left a while ago.”

He walked into the living room where Noelle was drawing a picture.

“We have a late start today,” Noelle said. “The school year’s winding down. We do this before we transition to summer school.”

“You go to school year round?” Charlie asked. “That sucks.”

“I don’t mind,” Noelle said. “Daddy works. Nash and Teddy are working this summer. I work on my school work too. I bet they could get you a job so you could work too.”

“Why would I want to work?” Charlie asked.

“Why wouldn’t you?” Noelle asked. “I’m going to work when I don’t go to school. I’ll make money and buy pretty shoes like Mrs. Jill has.”

“There’s easier ways to make money than working,” Charlie said.

“But not legal ones,” Aden said.

“Where’s Sandy?” Charlie asked.

“At the salon,” Aden said. “I’m home to take you to the eye doctor this morning. Noelle has a check up and the doctor was able to squeeze you in, Charlie.”

“Oh,” Charlie said. “Noelle wears glasses.”

“My birth mother, Nuala, broke my cheekbone and hurt my eye,” Noelle said. “I have to wear glasses to read.”

“I have to wear glasses to read too,” Charlie said.

“See,” Noelle beamed at him. “I knew you were my brother all a long.”

“Wouldn’t I be more like you’re Uncle?” Charlie asked.

“Nope,” Noelle said. “You’re my found brother. Daddy’s found son.”

Aden raised his eyebrows at Noelle.

“But I’m your Mom’s brother,” Charlie said.

“No,” Noelle said. “She’s your found Mom; like she’s my found Mom. That’s how it works.”

“Let’s get ready to go,” Aden said. “Clean T-shirt Charlie. Noelle can you put this away?”

“I’m almost done,” Noelle said. “Can you help so I can finish?”


Aden bent down to pick up some of Noelle’s pastels. He looked around for the storage box.

“They go in my artists supply bin over there,” Noelle said. “Mom got it for me.”

Aden set the pastels in the open drawer of a plastic container. The container had a handle and seemed perfect for all of Noelle’s art supplies. He smiled. Sandy’s little thoughtful touches made their life work.

“There, I’m done,” Noelle held up her picture. “Isn’t she pretty?”

Noelle held up a picture of a blue and purple Goddess fairy. Her beautiful face held a peaceful and kind expression.

“She’s beautiful,” Aden said.

“She’s Charlie’s fairy,” Noelle said. “Here you go, Charlie.”

Noelle gave the picture to Charlie then went to wash her hands. Charlie looked down at the picture then back at Aden.

“Noelle’s really good,” Charlie said.

“We don’t know where she gets it,” Aden said. “She has a real talent for art. She takes classes after school and stuff. Mike’s going to work with her this summer.”

“That’s your fairy, Charlie,” Noelle came from the bathroom with her book bag.

“My fairy?” Charlie asked.

“So you won’t get nightmares,” Noelle said. “You just hang it over your bed.”

Charlie was so touched he didn’t know what to say. He looked from the drawing to Noelle.

“Daddy, do we have time to do it now?”

“If we can find tape,” Aden said.

“It’s in my box,” Noelle said. “In the top compartment.”

Noelle ran over to her art supply box and took out the clear tape. She followed Charlie to his closet room and helped him hang the picture.

“See!” Noelle said. “Don’t you feel better already?”

Charlie nodded.

“Time to go,” Aden said.

“Do we get to have lunch too?” Noelle asked.

While Charlie stared at the picture, Aden and Noelle walked down the hallway. Aden stopped at the door to look.

“Come along, son,” Aden said.

Charlie looked up at Aden. He flushed. He wanted to say something about his Dad, his real Dad. But looking into Aden’s eyes, he saw something he hadn’t seen in a long time – compassion. He ran down the hall to Aden.

“Now what’s a found family?” Aden asked.

Noelle began to speak. Her bright chatter filled the second floor hallway. They were in the car before she finished what she had to say. Charlie heard only the sound, not the words.  He was too overwhelmed by the fairy, and Aden, and the thought that he might have a new family. He let Noelle sit in front while he sat in the back.

“What do you think, Charlie?” Aden looked at him thought the rear view mirror.

“Do I have to get lame glasses?” Charlie recovered himself enough to ask.

“Yes,” Aden said. “It’s a rule. I was thinking about something manly, like those ones with red lips on them.”

Aden started the car and Charlie laughed.


Tuesday morning — 8:35 A.M. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Katy ran out to the wave to fill her bucket with water. She and Jacob had worked all day yesterday on an elaborate sand castle. Katy and Paddie had woken at five that morning ready to get back to work.

Of course, Jacob and Colin were much less excited to get up. Jill took them down to the water before they woke everyone up with their enthusiasm. For the last two hours, they had played knights and princesses in the Castle. Jill tried to sit close enough to enjoy their play while letting them have their time together.

“They are cute,” Delphie said.

Jill turned in her beach chair and smiled.

“Do you mind if I join you?” Delphie asked. “I brought you some coffee.”

“You’re always welcome, Delphie,” Jill said. “Coffee is definitely welcome.”

Delphie sat down in a beach chair next to Jill. She gave Jill a Styrofoam cup of coffee prepared as Jill liked it.

“How about a chocolate filled croissant?” Delphie asked.

She pulled two pastries wrapped in a napkin from her pocket.

“Yes please,” Jill said.

The moment Delphie gave Jill the pastry, Katy ran over. Jill broke the croissant in half for Katy. Katy grabbed the pastry with sandy hands and ran back to Paddie.

“You let her eat with those hands?” Delphie asked.

“A little sand won’t kill her,” Jill said. “But don’t tell her Daddy. He’d think it was gross.”

Delphie laughed.

“How was your first night in Mexico?” Jill asked.

“Fun,” Delphie said. “Dinner was amazing. This place is gorgeous.”

The women looked around the resort. They were sitting on a private beach far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Their rooms looked out over the white sand and the blue water of the Gulf of California.

Katy ran over for a bottle of water. Jill gave her the water and she carried it back to Paddie.

“They look like they’re having fun,” Delphie said.

“They are,” Jill said. “I could sit here all week and watch them play.”

“Sounds like something you should do,” Delphie said.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Jill said. “There are whales to watch, museums to visit… I think we’re scheduled for some play?”

Hearing a sound, the women turned to watch Megan’s three sons running toward them. The boys splashed in the water. Megan’s youngest son joined Katy and Paddie in their sand castle.

“You really love kids,” Delphie said.

“I’ve been spoiled by Katy,” Jill said. “She’s such a great person. Every day with her is a different kind of adventure.”

Delphie smiled.

“Meg’s kids are pretty great too,” Jill said. “I was living with Meg when she had Ryan. That was fun.”

“Sounds like you’re excited for when the babies come,” Delphie said.

“You mean Sandy’s and Valerie’s?” Jill asked. “I’m positively thrilled. Sandy’s been too busy with Aden’s kids, and now with Charlie, to even think about her nursery.”

“We have a lot of fun ahead of us,” Delphie said. “How’s Mack?”

“Gorgeous,” Jill said. “I don’t think I’ve seen a prettier baby. Heather says he’s growing by leaps and bounds. Heather’s happier than I’ve ever seen her.”

Jill looked up to see Katy running over to her. Katy crawled into her lap. For a moment, Katy just sat in Jill’s lap. When the moment passed, Katy ran back to play with Paddie and her cousin.

“What was that?” Delphie asked.

“She likes to make sure that I’m still here,” Jill said. “I think it’s a remnant from living with Trevor.”

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” Delphie said. “Do you think Katy is traumatized by everything that happened?”

Jill looked over at Delphie. The women sized each other up for a moment.

“How traumatized is she?” Jill asked.

“Well…” Delphie said.

“What do I need to do?” Jill asked. “We took her to therapy and the therapist didn’t think she needed help. I don’t know what else to do.”

Delphie nodded.

“Hey you guys,” Jacob called from their room. “It’s time for breakfast.”

Jill got up to get Katy and Paddie. They washed the sand off their hands in the ocean. When Jill turned around, Delphie was walking up to the hotel with Sam. While Jill collected their belongings, Colin came down to get Paddie. Jill took Katy’s hand and they walked up to the hotel.

“Don’t worry, Mommy,” Katy said. “This isn’t something you can control.”

Jill stopped walking to look at her baby girl. Sometimes the four year old spoke more like a grandmother than a child. Katy held out her arms and Jill picked her up.

“Love you, Katy-baby,” Jill said.

Katy nestled her head under Jill’s chin. Jill carried her to breakfast.


Tuesday morning — 8:35 A.M. PDT Hollywood, CA

“Who was that?” Mike asked as Valerie set down the phone.

“My agent,” Valerie said.

“And?” Mike asked.

He picked up her work duffle bag. She’d had a later call and was just about to start another sixteen hour day. She followed him out the door to their rented car.

“The director on this movie made went to some director’s group last night,” Valerie said. “Had a lot to say about me.”

“Because of Delphie?” Mike asked.

“Actually, yes,” she said.

He unlocked and opened her door then helped her into the SUV. He dropped her bag in the back and went to the driver’s side.

“Sorry to hear that,” Mike said. “He seemed totally cool last night.”

“He is,” Valerie said. “He told a few of his director friends I was ‘good people.’ He told them about flying to Denver to help Delphie, my mother’s best friend. My agent said the phone’s been ringing off the hook.”


Mike started the car and drove through the Chateau Marmot complex to the street.

“I guess there’s a bunch of directors and actors that insist on working with good people,” Valerie said. “My agent said it’s the hardest club in Hollywood to get into. But…”

“You’re in?”

“I’m in,” Valerie said. “Hanks, Spielberg, Lucas, Howard… Those guys.”

“Wow,” Mike said.

“My agent said all the offers are for after the baby,” Valerie said. “He said he was a little defensive, kind of – ‘you know she’s pregnant’ – and to a person, they were excited to have me after the baby. My agent even said, ‘you know she brings her husband’ and they were like ‘good.’ I don’t know if there will be a ton of work, but it should be good work. TV too. My agent said I can work as much or as little as I want now.”

Stopping the car at a traffic light, Mike leaned over to kiss her.

“Congratulations,” Mike said.

“It never occurred to me that I could have you and babies and my career and…” Valerie’s eyes filled with tears. “I can just be me and…”

Mike took her hand and they smiled at each other.

“It’s a good life,” she said.

“It’s a very good life.”

Denver Cereal continues next week…


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