Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Two Hundred and Ninety-Five : My deal

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CHAPTER TWO HUNDRED and NINETY-FIVE

Saturday morning — 8:14 a.m.

“You stayed?” Finn asked Tanesha.

They were sitting across a small table in a study room at the Anschutz Health Sciences Library. They were allowed to speak with each other in the study room.

“In Jabari’s bed,” Tanesha nodded.

“There’s nothing better than snuggling a baby,” Finn said.

“You and NeNe?” Tanesha asked.

Finn nodded.

“She became very ill when she was small,” Finn said. “We were sure we’d lose her. Of course, we didn’t have the kind of medical genius that we’re learning, but …”

He shrugged.

“You had magic,” Tanesha said.

“We had fairy magic,” Finn smiled. “Powerful, but woefully limited. Remember, we are not the species that ended up propagating the earth.”

“Not for lack of trying,” Tanesha smiled.

Finn laughed. She looked down at her books for a moment.

“Yes?” Finn asked.

“Oh …” Tanesha looked up at him. “It’s just …”

Finn tipped his head to the side and waited. He’d learned that in order to get Tanesha to speak, she needed a lot of silence to gather her thoughts. He waited. She shook her head and looked at her books again.

“Yes?” Finn repeated.

“It’s just that …” Tanesha scowled. “I listen to Jeraine talk about the mothers of his children and …”

She nodded.

“I can’t figure it out,” Tanesha said.

“You can’t figure what out?” Finn asked.

“I can’t figure …” Tanesha looked through the window out into the library, and then looked back at Finn. “So there’s Annette, right?”

“Right,” Finn said.

“She’s the one he was going to marry,” Tanesha said. “He came to Denver to ask for a divorce so he could marry and then he changed his mind. According to Jer, she told him she was pregnant then. Schmidty showed me the child support records. Nine months later, she had a male child she named Jabari and then she started cashing in.”

“Four and a half years ago,” Finn nodded.

“I know about Jeraine Junior’s mother,” Tanesha scowled.

“She was on the television when you were reintroduced to Rodney,” Finn said.

“Right,” Tanesha said. “She went to see Jeraine for her birthday. She was with Jeraine and put a hole in the condom while he was snorting lines. Bam, she’s pregnant. Everybody knows that story.”

“Okay,” Finn said.

“Jeraine Junior is about six,” Tanesha said. “Almost six.”

“What bothers you?” Finn asked.

“Well …” Tanesha scowled. “Jeraine, I guess.”

“What’s new?” Finn smiled.

“That’s the truth,” Tanesha laughed.

“Spit it out,” Finn said. “We need to get this studying done or we’ll fail on Monday.”

“Prediction?”

“Fact,” Finn said. “What’s bothering you?”

“Okay, so we know about Annette,” Tanesha said. “Jeraine’s said that JJ …”

“Jeraine Junior,” Finn said.

“Yes,” Tanesha said. “His mother is in radiology school. Jer said that his mother apologized to him for tricking him into getting pregnant. He told me that she came from extreme poverty. He said she was using the child support as a way to better her family and herself. She’d bought a home for her parents and went to college. He was really proud of her.”

Finn nodded.

“That’s not the woman who was on my porch,” Tanesha said.

“How do you know?” Finn asked.

“Her language was all … nasty,” Tanesha said. “Her clothing and …”

Tanesha shook her head.

“So I asked Jer,” Tanesha said. “He told me that JJ …”

“Jeraine Junior,” Finn said. “You have to get used to calling your step-son by his name.”

Tanesha scowled. Finn gave her a hard look.

“Fine, Jeraine Junior,” Tanesha said.

“What did Jeraine say about the woman on your porch?” Finn asked.

“He said that Jeraine Junior,” Tanesha emphasized the syllables of the child’s name and Finn smiled, “was being cared for by his grandparents. The child believed the woman on my porch is his sister.”

“So not the radiologist who’s using the opportunity to get her life together,” Finn said.

“Exactly,” Tanesha said. “I asked him, but he’s so defensive about these kids that he …”

“Was the woman on your porch the same girl who you saw on television?” Finn asked.

“Good question,” Tanesha said. She thought for a moment. “You know, I think so.”

“Then he doesn’t know about these women,” Finn said.

“Is that possible?”

“He was high …?” Finn asked.

“All the time,” Tanesha said. “Surrounded by fools.”

“So it’s possible,” Finn said.

“What’s possible?”

“That there are three or four mothers,” Finn said.

“He’s only, ever paid for two kids,” Tanesha said. “Jeraine Junior and Jabari. That’s all.”

“You think there was a secret fund?” Finn asked. “Maybe a one-time payout?”

“No way,” Tanesha said. “Schmidty had been incredibly thorough. He’s gone through everything with a fine toothed comb. He even sued the record company to audit their records of Jeraine’s career. And he sends everything to me. Between the two of us, we’d have found it. That’s why it’s … confusing.”

“Why?”

“Because there’s more mothers than money,” Tanesha said.

“But only two children,” Finn said.

“Right,” Tanesha said. “Two children.”

“You sure?”

Tanesha nodded.

“So you have at least one extra mother,” Finn said. As a test, he gave Tanesha a simple challenge. “Ok, who?”

“Annette,” Tanesha said.

“Because that’s what you want?” Finn asked.

“Because I don’t think Jabari is her son,” Tanesha nodded.

“Is that what you want to be true?” Finn pressed. “Or what’s true?”

Tanesha scowled and looked off through the window to the library again.

“Annette is not Jabari’s mother,” Tanesha looked at Finn. “And he’s not four years old.”

“I’d bet you’re right,” Finn said. “Anything you can do about that right now?”

“Not a thing,” Tanesha smiled.

“Then let’s get to work,” Finn said.

He looked down at his books, and Tanesha smiled.

“What?” Finn asked, but didn’t look up.

“You’re a good friend, Finn,” Tanesha said.

She turned her attention to her book and started to read. He looked up at her, and smiled.

~~~~~~~~

Saturday morning — 10:24 a.m.

“So that’s it?” Sandy asked.

She crossed her arms and scowled at back of Detective Red Bear’s head on the computer screen. His head was wrapped in gauze. She could see a seam of blood which had seeped from the five stitches required to seal his hockey puck injury. Detective Red Bear sat with his back to the surveillance camera at a table in the interrogation room.

“I’m afraid so,” Seth said. “He’s just waiting for the Marshalls to pick him up.”

“Witness protection,” Sandy mumbled.

“Listen, I know it’s not fair, but …” Seth started.

Sandy gave him a dark look and he stopped talking.

“Did he say why he killed my mother?” Sandy asked.

Seth blinked. He’d never heard Sandy refer to Andy as her mother. He cleared his throat and looked at the ground for a moment to collect himself.

“He didn’t,” Sandy snorted. “Coward.”

Seth looked up at her.

“What?” Sandy asked.

“I’m wondering if it would make you feel better to hear what he said,” Seth said.

“What did he say?” Sandy asked.

“He said that Andy killed herself,” Seth said. “He said that seeing you, knowing that you were alive and safe, well loved, she told him she’d not live one more day under his control.”

Sandy’s eyes welled with tears.

“I should never have gone,” Sandy said.

“I think he’s a liar,” Seth said. “So do Raz and Colin. Raz believes he killed Andy because he could no longer control her.”

“Because of me and Rachel?” Sandy asked. She turned to look at him.

“And this,” Seth touched the ring on her left hand. “Andy knew you were loved and well cared for by this.”

“My wedding ring?”

Seth nodded.

“She said that he would kill me,” Sandy said. “She thought I was dead or at least dead to her. She submitted herself to that man so that I …”

Tears slid down Sandy’s face.

“And he gets to live …” Sandy said.

“If it’s any consolation, he’s given evidence as to exactly who is involved in the spread of child pornography,” Seth said. “The ICE guys were here most of the night. They arrested twenty people — men and women — who spread child pornography, including yours. With the network destroyed, the young man who instigated the rape ring here is looking for a deal. They’ve toppled like dominoes. They expect to plea agreements for the entire lot of them by the end of the weekend.”

“And Andy?” Sandy spit out. She flushed with rage. “Tink and the other girls, who they used horribly, tortured, and abused? Noelle, who they terrified? What do they get?”

“The whole thing, that whole mess, is over, Sandy,” Seth said. “Raz and Colin are tracking the details — mostly where the money is. They expect to arrest the bankers today. Then, that’s it. No one will ever be abused by this ring. No high school girl will have to endure what these girls have had to go through.”

Seth looked into her face.

“What do I get?” Sandy asked. “Where my deal?”

“If there was anything I could do … anything …”

Sandy turned to look at the computer screen. She pointed to the detective’s head.

“When do I get to push him from a roof so his last moments are filled with horror? When do I get to assault his every orafice and spread it all over the world? When do I get to take away everything he loved so he lives under someone else’s thumb … and …”

Sandy started to cry. Seth held his arms out, but she shook her head. Her hands closed into fists and she held herself tight.

“If it’s any consolation, he thinks the man who pretended to be your father is your biological father,” Seth said. “Patty lied to him, manipulated him. She used his obsession with Andy to destroy his police career while using him to control Andy. He said that once Mitch took you away from your father, Patty had to scramble for some way to control Andy. She found Red Bear, knew how much he obsessed on Andy, and used it to take over his life. Of course, he made sure Andy towed the line.”

Sandy shook her head.

“Again, that’s according to the big fat liar,” Seth gestured to the detective. Sandy continued to shake her head. “Yea, it doesn’t make it feel better.”

“I need to look in that box,” Sandy said. “The one that Delphie said would explain everything. I just …”

Sandy’s face softened with sorrow.

“I miss her so much … so, so much,” Sandy said. “And … I never knew her.”

She touched her chest.

“I miss her right here,” Sandy said.

“I know,” Seth said.

Sandy stared at the computer screen. They watched the back of the detective’s head in silence. After a few minutes, Sandy took a deep breath and nodded to herself.

“Can you go in there?” Sandy asked.

She wiped her tears with her hands.

“I spent most of the night and this morning in there,” Seth said.

“But can you go in there now?”

“Sure,” Seth said.

“And you’re sure that he doesn’t know that you’re my biological father?” Sandy asked.

“Andy told him it was the man we thought had been married to Patty.”

“Will you do me a favor?” Sandy asked.

“Uh …”

“Will you go in there and tell him that you’re my father?” Sandy asked. “That I’m an O’Malley?”

“Why?” Seth gave her an intense look.

“It’s complicated,” Sandy said.

Seth gave her a long, assessing look.

“O’Malley?” a man’s voice came over the intercom.

“Yeah,” Seth said.

“The Marshalls are on their way to you,” the man on the intercom said.

“Thanks!” Seth said.

“You’re running out of time,” she said and gestured with her hands for him to go on. “You said you’d do anything.”

Shaking his head, Seth went into the room. Detective Red Bear looked up when Seth entered the room.

“The Marshalls will be here in a minute,” Seth said.

Detective Red Bear nodded.

“One more thing,” Seth said. “Sandy is my daughter.”

The detective scowled at him.

“Seth and Andy makes Sandy,” Seth said. “I lost track of her. That’s why she was abused.”

A dawning realization came over the detective’s face. Seeing his reaction, Seth continued.

“But Andi and I, we were to be married,” Seth said. “I waited for her, but she never showed.”

“The white dress …” the detective said.

The detective’s face flushed bright red. The red moved to his throat and shoulders. Sandy saw his neck turn bright red. Soon his hands followed suit.

“That’s right,” Seth said. “She had the stroke and I couldn’t find her. And …”

Sensing movement, he saw the Marshalls come down the hallway.

“We don’t have time for all of that,” Seth said.

Seth raised a hand in good-bye and stepped aside for the Marshalls to get in to the room. The detective slumped over the table. The Marshalls yelled for medics. By the time Seth returned to the observation room, the Marshalls were taking turns doing CPR.

“What?” Seth gestured to the room.

“He’s terrified of what he calls the O’Malley curse,” Sandy said. “It’s why he had me lock you into the studio.”

Seth nodded.

“What’s the O’Malley curse?” Sandy asked.

“Oh …” Seth looked at the computer screen, and smiled. “Come on. I’ll buy you breakfast.”

“Can you leave?” Sandy asked.

“For now,” Seth said. “I’ll have to come back or they’ll think I killed him.”

He put his arm around her shoulder and they walked through the police station to the front. He opened the passenger door and helped her into his truck. He got into the other side.

“There are moments when I know, really know, that you are my daughter,” Seth said.

“Oh yea?” Sandy asked. “You and Dad you mean.”

“You’re right,” Seth started the truck. “That was a total Mitch.”

“I didn’t kill him,” Sandy imitated Mitch Delgado’s voice.

“He should’ve watched his diet,” Seth did his own imitation of Mitch. “’S not my fault he had heart trouble.”

They burst out laughing and drove out of the parking garage. Stopping at the gate, they heard the news — Detective Red Bear was in critical condition at Denver Health, and wasn’t expected to make it.

“Is it bad to be glad?” Sandy asked in a low tone.

“Good question for a priest,” Seth said. Seth glanced at her. “Sam’s?”

“Sounds good,” Sandy said.

~~~~~~~~

Saturday — 12:05 p.m.

“We start with the conditioning,” Blane’s infectious disease doctor said. “That’s a nice word for we’re going to hurt you.”

Blane chuckled. Heather squeezed his hand and he looked at her. She tried to will away the panic in his eyes. They could only have two people in the room when he started conditioning. He’d chosen Heather and Sam Lipson. Jill, Tanesha, and Sandy waited outside the room for them with Jacob and Charlie.

“That doesn’t sound very good,” Sam said.

The doctor looked at Sam and seemed to get the point. He cleared his throat.

“I should know better than try to be funny,” the doctor gave a weird grin.

Blane and Heather smiled. Sam scowled.

“What is going to happen to Blane?” Sam asked.

“We’re giving him chemo therapy,” the doctor said. “Given that he’s been so ill, we’ll start with a low dose and see how he tolerates it. He’ll also start total body irradiation tomorrow. The chemo and radiation will kill off all of his bone marrow.”

“Will it hurt?” Heather asked.

“It’s definitely going to be unpleasant,” the doctor said. “He’ll probably lose that great hair.”

The doctor nodded as if he was agreeing with himself.

“If you’re asking my opinion,” the doctor said, “I’d say that Blane will come through this with flying colors. We’ve worked together for a long, long time. I’ve never known him not to do well with intervention.”

“But you’ll go slow this week, right?” Heather asked.

“Yes,” the doctor said. “We have two weeks scheduled for conditioning. If he makes it through the treatments faster, we’ll start sooner. But for now, he’ll have two weeks of conditioning, three days to rest, then he’ll receive the transfusion. We won’t know for at least two weeks after that if the transfusion worked.”

Heather and Sam bobbed their heads. They had gone over this very schedule with Blane before the doctor came in. The doctor put his hand on Blane’s shoulder.

“I want to give you a chance to back out,” the doctor said. “If we start, we cannot stop. Blane?”

“I’m ready,” Blane smiled. His eyes flicked to Heather and she gave him her best loving smile.

“Then we start,” the doctor said.

The doctor connected a smallish IV bag to Blane’s saline IV. He hung the smaller bag on the rack. The doctor looked at Blane.

“On your mark,” the doctor said.

“Go,” Blane said immediately.

The doctor turned the valve and the chemical entered the IV.

“So we begin,” the doctor said. “Good luck.”

The doctor left the room.

“Heather?” Blane asked.

She jogged to the counter where they’d set the throw up bowl. She made it back to the bed just in time for him to throw up.

“So we begin,” Heather said under her breath.

~~~~~~~~

Saturday — 4:35 p.m.

“Candy. No. Cookies. No. Ice cream. No …” Sitting in his car seat in the back seat of Yvonne’s sedan, Jabari was trying to decide what treat he would get for getting out of the hospital. “A tiger! That’s what I want.”

Yvonne and Rodney laughed. Pleased with his joke, Jabari giggled.

“We could go to the zoo,” Rodney said. “But, not today.”

“How come?” Jabari asked.

“Why can’t we go to the zoo today?” Rodney repeated.

“Why can’t we go to the zoo?” Jabari asked.

“It’s late and cold,” Yvonne said. She turned sideways in the passenger seat so she could see Jabari. “You just got out of the hospital. Tonight, we’re going home, getting cleaned up, having a bite to eat, and getting some sleep.”

“Oh,” Jabari said.

They drove in silence for a few minutes. Rodney watched Jabari in the rearview mirror.

“What is it, son?” Rodney asked.

“I wondered if my Mom would come see me tonight,” Jabari said.

“Honey, your Mom went back to Atlanta,” Yvonne said. “You know that.”

“Not her,” Jabari said.

“Then who?” Yvonne asked.

“Tannie,” Jabari said.

“I warned about that name, Jabari,” Rodney said.

Jabari nodded.

“That’s why I’m going to just call her Mom,” Jabari said.

Yvonne smiled at Jabari and looked at Rodney. She saw a glimmer of wetness in her husband’s eyes.

“She has to be with her friend,” Yvonne said. “She’ll be by tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Jabari sighed. “I have to get better anyway.”

“That’s exactly right,” Rodney said.

“You know what would make me really better?” Jabari asked.

“Candy?” Yvonne said.

“Nope,” Jabari said. “Ice cream.”

“Ice cream it is,” Rodney said.

He drove toward Lik’s Ice Cream. They had stopped at the light on 13th Avenue when Yvonne touched Rodney’s arm. She gestured to the back seat.

Jabari was sound asleep. Rodney turned toward home.

Denver Cereal continues next week.

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