Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Two Hundred and Eighty-Three : Scary

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CHAPTER TWO HUNDRED and EIGHTY-THREE

Sunday—3:30 p.m.

“Go ahead,” Delphie said. She gave her new charge, Keenan, a nudge. They were standing at the door to Jill and Jacob’s loft.

“What do I do?” Keenan asked. The boy shook with anxiety. His transition from Kirk Maughold, elderly monk, to Keenan, young boy, had left him anxious and unsure of himself.

“Just knock,” Delphie said. “Like this.”

Delphie raised her hand and knocked on the door. Keenan raised his fist to imitate her, but Katy opened the door before he could knock. She watched him knock on air. She knocked back. Keenan gave an embarrassed laugh and Katy giggled.

“Go on,” Delphie said.

She shooed Keenan into the loft. Keenan’s eyes were huge as he looked at all the space. Jacob was in the little kitchen getting their snack together. Katy slammed the door after they came in.

“Katy!” Jill said from the nursery.

Katy ran into the nursery.

“Keenan!” Jacob said. “Glad you could make it.”

He hugged Delphie and made a gesture to hug Keenan. The boy looked at him as if he was crazy. Jacob put his hand on the boys shoulder, and he smiled.

“Nice to see you,” Jacob said and went back into the kitchen. “I thought we could have our snack here.”

He gestured to the kitchen bar. Delphie helped Keenan up on a bar stool and sat down next to him. Keenan looked terrified.

“Why am I …” Keenan started. He looked at Delphie. “Ma’am said you wanted to speak with me.”

“Delphie,” she corrected.

“Yes, ma’am,” Keenan said. He was becoming more embarrassed by the moment. “Have I done something …?”

Katy laughed and Keenan looked over at the nursery. The stars Mike had painted on the ceiling were dancing around. Keenan smiled.

“The babies?” Delphie asked Jacob.

“Bladen,” Jacob said. Since there was already a Michael in the house, their son Michael Bladen had almost immediately become Bladen. “We don’t think he knows he’s doing it. What would you like to drink, Keenan?”

“I’d love some tea, if you have it?” Keenan’s sounded briefly like an old man. He cleared his throat. “Um, sorry, I don’t know …”

Delphie put her arm around him.

“How about some juice?” Delphie asked.

“Done,” Jacob said.

He set out the plate of fruit and berries he’d been putting together. He gave Delphie a mug of green tea and poured a cup of juice for Keenan. Jacob went back to the refrigerator to look for string cheese. Katy skipped out of the nursery. Jill followed her with Tanner in her arms.

“The only way we’ve found to get Bladen to settle down is to take Tanner away.” Jacob said. He took the tiny baby from Jill. She went back to the nursery for their other son.

Keenan took a sip of his juice and then looked at the glass.

“This is juice?” Keenan asked.

“Orange juice,” Jacob said. “Jill squeezed some this morning.”

“I like this orange juice,” Keenan said.

Jacob smiled.

“I wanted to talk to you a bit before everything starts for you tomorrow,” Jacob said.

“School,” Keenan looked at Delphie and she smiled.

“Soccer,” Jacob said.

Keenan nodded. Katy climbed onto the bar stool next to Keenan. Jacob gave her a glass of milk.

“What is that?” Keenan asked.

“Milk,” Jacob said. “From a cow.”

“May I?” Keenan asked.

“You’re allergic,” Delphie said.

“I am?” Keenan looked surprised.

For a moment, Keenan looked like a wisp of an old man. Jacob blinked and Keenan was a boy again. It was as if Keenan’s struggle to be a child was playing out before them. Having seen the old man inside the boy, Katy gave Keenan a sly look. Jill came out of the loft carrying Bladen.

“They want to talk to you about using magic,” Katy said.

“Magic?” Keenan looked confused.

“You know, you’re a fairy and all,” Katy said.

“I am?” Keenan asked. He looked at Delphie, and blinked.

“You know that,” Delphie said.

Jill leaned over and kissed his cheek. Keenan looked at her.

“Thanks,” he said. “I … I am trying.”

“We know,” Katy said.

“You can talk to us,” Jacob said. “We’re not exactly like you, but we understand.”

“The air here is … thick,” Keenan said. “The slightest thing is … exhausting.”

“I’ve been blocking you,” Jacob said. “Fin too.”

“Why?” Keenan asked.

“We don’t do magic here,” Jacob said.

“I don’t even get to,” Katy said. Keenan looked at her with large eyes.

“It can lead to a lot of trouble,” Jacob said. “For you. For Delphie. Us.”

“Oh,” Keenan looked very sad. “It’s who I am and …”

“No it’s not,” Katy shook her head.

Keenan looked at her and then at Jacob.

“You are you, first,” Delphie said. “And you can do a few things, secondly. You’ve spent so much time doing magic that you haven’t had any time to just be you.”

For a short second, Keenan’s physical being shifted to the old man again. In a blink of an eye, he switched back.

“I don’t know what that means,” Keenan said.

“Why would you?” Jill asked. “You’re a child. You have a chance to learn and grow. It’s what you wanted.”

“I want to grow up like Fin did,” Keenan nodded. “But I can’t imagine growing up and not having magic in my life.”

“It’s not bad,” Katy said. “Sometimes, it’s easier.”

“We only use our skills—that’s what we call them ‘skills’—when we are around people we trust,” Jacob said.

“Like each other,” Delphie said. “I’d never go up to a stranger and start telling them their future. That would be rude.”

“Rude?” Keenan asked.

“Invasive,” Jacob said.

“Weird,” Katy said.

“I think I know what you mean,” Keenan scowled.

“We’ve asked Jill’s mother to help you get ready for school,” Delphie said. “She helped Charlie. You remember Charlie?”

Keenan smiled at the mention of Charlie’s name.

“He showed me basketball last night,” Keenan said. “We are doing basketball this afternoon with Nash and Teddy and … me. The boys. I’m a boy.”

Keenan smiled and seemed to solidify as a boy. He looked up at Delphie.

“I understand what you mean,” Keenan said. “I could easily use magic to move the ball, but that would not be fair to Charlie and Nash and Teddy.”

“Or any fun,” Jacob said. “The fun is in learning how to do it with your body. So I’ll keep blocking you until you get in the habit doing things without magic. Your brother will too.”

“Plus, the boys know about magic,” Jill said. “They’ll know if you use it.”

“Oh, that makes sense,” Keenan smiled. He glanced at Delphie and then at Jill. “Thanks.”

“For?” Delphie asked.

“For giving me this chance,” Keenan said. “It’s hard, but …”

Katy laughed and they all turned to look at her. She pointed to the vase on the counter. The flowers were twirling in the water.

They are babies,” Jacob said. “They can’t help it.”

“Right,” Keenan said. “I need to learn to control my … what do you call them?”

“Skills,” Jacob said.

“Or be like a baby,” Keenan nodded.

“Will you?” Delphie asked.

“I can only try,” Keenan said.

“Abi is here to help the twins,” Jill said. “And you. She’s going to work with you in the mornings.”

“Abi is a fairy and my sister,” Keenan nodded. He thought for a moment before adding, “She doesn’t use her skills. Because she will get in trouble?”

“Because she doesn’t need to,” Jacob said. “She’s learned to be herself, first.”

Keenan nodded. He ate a few berries and sniffed at the string cheese. After a few minutes, he looked up.

“May I go do basketball?” Keenan asked.

“Sure,” Delphie said.

Keenan got up. He slammed the door on his way out. The twins woke with a scream, and Katy laughed.

“I’ll go,” Jacob said, and left to follow Keenan.

~~~~~~~~

Monday—7:35 a.m.

Sitting in the back of the limousine, Jeraine rubbed his face. Schmidty had been babbling a mile a minute since Jeraine got into the limousine. Jeraine looked at his agent and lawyer.

They had basically grown up together. Schmidty’s mother had returned to Denver after his father had dumped her. She had traded his money and fame for her son. That was it. No support, no visitation, just “give me the boy and you can keep everything else.” Schmidty’s father had agreed only to renege on the deal when his subsequent wives failed to bear him a son. Jeraine always felt like Schmidty’s mother had been screwed by his father.

No one ever knew how hard things were for her. She was funny, friendly, and very pretty. Jeraine’s mother, Dionne, had worked hard to help Schmidty’s mother get a job. His parents had included Schmidty and his mom in everything. The adults would send the kids out to play while the adults laughed and played cards. Schmidty and Jeraine played together as much as two geek kids obsessed with music could play.

Jeraine gave Schmidty a soft smile. He was glad Schmidty was by his side today.

“I’m talking too much,” Schmidty said.

“Are you nervous?” Jeraine asked.

“I want to kill her,” Schmidty said. “I never thought I’d be … you’d … me … I …”

“I was just thinking that, Jammy. Can you imagine that we …” Jeraine gestured to Schmidty and himself, “ … are doing this shit? Just like …”

“My mom and dad.” Schmidt leaned back against the seat. “I thought that this morning. How did we get here?”

“No idea,” Jeraine said. “I only know I’m not your father. And you aren’t his lawyer.”

Schmidty nodded and looked like he was going to vomit. The limousine pulled over at Detroit Street and Colfax Boulevard where Mike Roper and a familiar looking big guy were standing. Mike and the big guy got in the limousine. Schmidty had wanted Jeraine to have body guards. Tanesha thought they could spread the money around to some people who would appreciate it, so she’d asked Mike if he wanted to do it. Mike asked the big guy.

Jeraine glanced at the guy and looked away. That guy was terrifying.

“Andy,” the big guy stuck his hand out so Jeraine had to shake it. “You Jeraine?”

Jeraine nodded.

“What are we doing?” Scary Andy asked.

“We’re hoping to get Mr. Wilson into family court without being on television,” Schmidty said.

“Television …” Scary Andy looked from Schmidty to Jeraine. “You mean the news?”

“Reality TV,” Jeraine said.

Mike sneered and looked out the window.

“The mother of Mr. Wilson’s son is on a reality television show,” Schmidty said. “She’s been trying to get Mr. Wilson to come on the show for a long time. We believe that’s what the stunt with the child is about.”

“You mean, she abandoned your son so that you would be forced to be on her reality television show?” Scary Andy asked.

“Improve the ratings,” Jeraine said.

Scary Andy gave an indignant snort.

“They’re expecting quite a disruption today,” Schmidty said. “They will certainly be there to tape it.”

“In court?” Mike asked.

“We’ve been informed of just such a thing,” Schmidty said.

“Okay,” Scary Andy nodded. He glanced at Mike, and said, “We’re in, but like I said, we have to be at roll call at one. Will we be done by one?”

“We should be,” Schmidty said.

“Then it’s a go,” Scary Andy said.

“Thanks,” Mike said.

Scary Andy took out a cellphone and texted the word “Go.”

“What does that mean?” Jeraine asked.

“Andy works on a team that does security for a lot of highly placed politicians and even royalty,” Mike nodded. “Around the world.”

“I can’t really afford …” Jeraine started.

“You mean, you’re broke?” Scary Andy looked at him.

“Accountant issues,” Schmidty said.

“I didn’t have issues,” Jeraine said. “I had an accountant who had issues of the Cayman’s kind.”

Scary Andy laughed. Schmidty shifted uncomfortably. Scary Andy tapped on the window and the limousine driver rolled it down.

“Pull over,” Andy said.

“Yes, sir,” the driver said.

The driver pulled the limousine over, and Mike got out.

“Where’s Mike going?” Jeraine asked.

“Home,” Scary Andy said. “He would have stayed if my team didn’t take the case. But now that we’re on it, he’s not needed. He can go home and paint.”

He leaned toward the driver and said, “Go.”

The limousine moved into the traffic on Colfax Avenue.

“Wait,” Jeraine rubbed the growing pressure in his head. “How am I going to pay you?”

“I can easily cover …” Schmidty started.

“No,” Jeraine said. “I promised Miss T that I wouldn’t take on more debt. She’s been through enough. And all of this …”

“Are you talking about Tanesha Smith?” Scary Andy asked.

“My wife,” Jeraine said.

“She’s already there,” Scary Andy said. “One of our team has secured her along with her mother and father. They are with a man named Fin. You know him?”

Jeraine nodded.

“Good,” Scary Andy said. “Your parents have just arrived. They are on their way into a conference room.”

“How …?” Jeraine and Schmidty said in unison.

“We were in place,” Scary Andy said. “Listen, about payment, there is something you can do for us.”

“What?” Jeraine scowled.

“You can write a song we can give our loved ones,” Scary Andy said. “You know something about how much they give and how much we take and what assholes we are and … I mean, I’ve put my Luz through hell. You wouldn’t believe what she’s put up with. I’m still on active duty. Could you …?”

“Mr. Wilson doesn’t do requests …” Schmidty started.

“Sure,” Jeraine said. “I can do it. I can’t guarantee when.”

“But you’re good for it?” Scary Andy asked. “’Cuz if you’re not? I can always tell Tanesha that you made a deal and …”

“How do you know Tanesha?” Jeraine asked.

“It’s a small world,” Scary Andy said.

“I’ll have my office draw up the papers,” Schmidty said and swallowed hard.

“Listen to you,” Scary Andy said. He made his voice sound geeky, and said, “I’ll draw up the papers.”

Scary Andy laughed. He stuck his hand out, and Jeraine shook it.

“I think you’d make a mint on the song,” Scary Andy said. “It would be nice if maybe you donated to soldiers coming home.”

“Done,” Jeraine said.

Schmidty looked at Jeraine for a moment. Jeraine nudged his shoulder.

“Of course,” Schmidty said. “You have to recognize that we’re not used to this kind of thing.”

“Who is?” Scary Andy laughed.

“How do we know you have the authority to make these agreements?” Schmidty asked.

“You don’t,” Scary Andy said.

Schmidty and Jeraine shifted uncomfortably.

“Call your mother, James Schmidt, the fifth,” Scary Andy said. “She’s expecting your call.”

Schmidty looked at Scary Andy for a moment before taking out his phone.

“You remember that big fight between your mom and dad after she found him in bed with the soon-to-be next ex-wife?” Scary Andy asked.

Schmidty’s head went up and down in a slow nod.

“Remember the guy with the blue eyes?” Scary Andy asked. “Handsome as hell. Deadly. Got you and your mother out of there and on a plane to Denver? He bought you ice cream.”

Schmidty swallowed hard.

“He’s my boss,” Scary Andy asked. “You met him last week, Jeraine. He’s blind now. Handsome as hell?”

Jeraine nodded.

“Before you ask, he dated your mother when she was in high school,” Scary Andy said. “They’ve been friends ever since.

“He did?” Schmidty asked.

“Ask her,” Scary Andy said. “But you’d better hurry. We’re almost here.”

Schmidty looked at his phone and then at Andy. He nodded and put his phone away.

“Good choice,” Scary Andy said. “Ok, this is how this goes down. We’ve got access to the secure garage under the court house. The judge you were scheduled with is a little too media friendly for our taste. A motion was already filed to switch judges. Your judge today will call you when the courtroom is clear.”

“How …?” Schmidty asked.

“You think those judges want to piss us off?” Scary Andy asked. “What are they going to do when some asshole tries to kill them or comes after their family?”

“Call the Denver Police?” Schmidty asked. Jeraine nodded.

“And who do the police call when it’s too much?” Scary Andy asked. “It’s quid pro quo, like you lawyer’s say.”

As the limousine passed the courthouse, they could see that it was mobbed. A long line of fans waited to get in. Television vans lined the street. In groups of three, reporters, videographers, and their producers lined up on the sidewalk to file their stories on pop star Jeraine Wilson’s custody issues.

Surrounded by television cameras, Annette stood on the corner. Her mouth was moving and the cameras were picking up every word. Her hair was perfectly coiffed. She wore a designer outfit and five inch heels. But her face showed the wear of someone who’d been crying all night. The men couldn’t help but gawk at her as the limousine turned the corner.

“That’s what crazy looks like,” Scary Andy said. “You were really going to divorce hot-Tanesha for that? You’re dumber than you look.”

“Where’s Jabari?” Jeraine asked rather than dignify Andy’s question with a response. “Where’s my son? The social worker was going to …”

“He’s with his social worker and lawyer,” Scary Andy said. “They are secured. Jabari is playing with JJ while the social worker speaks with JJ’s grandmother.”

“You’ve done a lot,” Schmidty said.

“This is not our first rodeo,” Scary Andy shrugged. “Here’s how this goes: You don’t go anywhere without me. Period. I don’t care if you have to piss or you just gotta have some groupies.”

“I don’t do that anymore,” Jeraine said.

“You just remember, I go where you go. Got it?”

Jeraine nodded.

“Good,” Scary Andy said.

The limousine pulled up to a metal door, and stopped. The door rolled up and the limousine drove into the underground parking lot. The driver parked next to a man and a woman standing in the garage. The man opened the limousine door. Scary Andy got out and closed the door.

“Scary,” Schmidty said in a low tone so Jeraine could hear him.

Jeraine nodded. They waited another few minutes before Scary Andy opened the door.

“Time to move,” Scary Andy said.

Jeraine followed Schmidty out of the limousine. The man and woman stood to either side of them and Scary Andy stood in front of him.

“You’d better be able to roll,” Scary Andy said. “This shit is going down right now. The judge got stuck in all of that mess outside. He’s already issuing orders. The Denver Police are closing the building to anyone without pressing business inside. You ready?”

“To fight for my son?” Jeraine asked. “Yes.”

“Can you handle the stairs?” Scary Andy asked. “It’s the most private way into the courtrooms.”

Jeraine nodded.

“Then let’s go,” Scary Andy said.

Scary Andy opened the door to the stairs and took off. For a big man, he was remarkably fast. Jeraine looked at Schmidty, and Schmidty nodded that he could do it. Jeraine took the stairs three at a time toward the courtrooms.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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