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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND FIVE
Monday afternoon — 1:20 p.m.
Humming to herself, Jill let herself in the kitchen door of Yvonne and Rodney’s place. She’d no sooner gotten the kitchen door open when Akeem looked out from the carriage house in the back. Jill waved to him. He gave an odd look and a nod before going back inside.
Jill closed the kitchen door and waited. When the young man didn’t come to take a look, she smiled.
She caught a glance at herself in the mirror. She had Bladen strapped to her front and Tanner to her back. The twins headed had lolled to their right sides as they slept. They looked like mirror images of each other. She smiled at herself in the mirror and got to work.
Rodney was bringing Mr. Chesterfield home in an hour or so. Tanesha had asked if Jill could come over and clean up, so that Rodney could focus on Mr. Chesterfield and not the mess in the house. The police had released the scene. It was time for a mop and a meddling elf.
Jill was just getting started when there was a knock at the kitchen door. Jill opened the door to Heather and Sandy. Heather offered to take a twin, but Jill shook her head.
“Can you vacuum?” Jill asked.
“I will,” Sandy said. “I love the vacuum.”
Jill grinned at Sandy.
“Just sucks away all the dirt and voilà! It’s gone,” Heather repeated what Sandy always said, and they laughed.
“I’ll get the bedrooms,” Heather said. “Don’t forget the dog food.”
“Got it,” Jill said.
Heather and Sandy went through the kitchen. Jill got the broom and started sweeping the kitchen. The police had tracked in mud and snow from the garden. Mr. Chesterfield’s blood had splattered all over the kitchen floor and cabinets.
“Leave the mopping,” Heather said as she came through with an arm load of sheets. “I’ll get it.”
Jill nodded. Heather dumped the sheets into the washing machine.
“I’ll get that,” Jill said.
“I’ll bring the towels,” Heather said and took the stairs two at a time.
Jill made a bowl of warm water and dish soap and began cleaning the cabinets. She’d mopped up the worst of it when Heather returned with the towels. Together, they filled the washing machine and Jill turned it on. Heather was on her way back upstairs when the backdoor opened. Akeem stuck his head in.
“I don’t know why I can’t help,” Akeem said.
Jill smiled at him.
“No really, why can’t I clean this house?” Akeem asked. “I help Miss Yvonne clean almost every day.”
Jill just smiled at him.
“You’re not going to tell me,” Akeem shook his head.
“There’s nothing to tell,” Jill said in an exaggerated low voice.
“You don’t fool me,” Akeem said. “I’ve seen those babies sleep through anything. Miss Yvonne says they’re special that way. Your baby-Katy too. So spill it.”
“We’re … uh …” Jill gave him a long look.
“You’re what?” Akeem asked.
“Healing the house,” Jill said. “The house has gone through a violent attack. It needs to be healed, so the people inside the house can heal.”
“Oh,” Akeem said. “I see. Can I help with that? You could teach me.”
“Actually,” Jill said. “Can you show me where they keep Mr. Chesterfield’s food?”
“And after that?” Akeem asked. He tipped his nose up into the air. “Is that weed? Rodney will f-ng freak out.”
“Sage,” Jill said.
“Sage,” Akeem repeated. “What are you doing?”
“We’re clearing out the bad stuff,” Jill said. “Making it a healing place for Rodney and Mr. Chesterfield.”
“What about Jabari?” Akeem stuck his chin in the air. “He’s coming back here, right?”
“But not for Jabari?” Akeem asked.
“We’ll do another round when Jabari gets here,” Jill said.
“Why do you need to see Mr. Chesterfield’s food?” Akeem asked.
Jill sighed. They had a lot to do and little time to get it done. She gave Akeem an irritated look, and he scowled.
“Where’d you get the bruise?” Jill walked toward the young man.
“Rodney,” Akeem touched the bruise on his jaw. “He didn’t know what he was doing. Crazy after the dog and …”
Jill covered the bruise with her fingertips. Akeem looked at her.
“Your heart is broken too, but this is going to have to do for now,” Jill said.
“My heart …” Akeem started.
“Look in the mirror,” Jill said.
She went back to cleaning the cabinets. Akeem looked in the amber antique mirror hanging on the wall behind the kitchen table. He touched the spot where the bruise had been. His jaw dropped.
“It’s not there,” Akeem said. His eyes tracked Jill in the mirror. “Can you teach me?”
“Why would you want to know how?” Jill asked.
“Because I want to help heal my people,” Akeem said. “All people. There’s so much pain in the world and I …”
“I can try,” Jill said. “I think it’s a genetic thing though.”
“But you could teach me how and I could do my best,” Akeem said.
“Good,” Akeem said. “What’s next?”
“We need to fortify all of Mr. Chesterfield’s food so that everything he eats will help him heal,” Jill said.
“How ’bout his meds?” Akeem asked. “I picked them up so they’d be here when Rodney got home.”
“Great!” Jill said. “You get them and I’ll finish cleaning up.”
The sound of Sandy and the vacuum cleaner came down the stairs. Heather thumped after her.
“What’s left?” Heather asked.
“Mopping,” Jill said.
“I’ll do it last,” Heather said. “What else?”
“Tanesha said there’s some chili in the freezer,” Jill said. “We can put it on so Rodney will have something tonight.”
“And Mr. Chesterfield’s food?” Heather asked.
Jill pointed to the bag of dog food behind the washing machine. Heather went to where the food was stored. She tugged on the bag to bring it out.
“There’s some in there,” Jill said.
“Wait,” Akeem said when he came in the door. “What’s she doing?”
He lifted the heavy bag from behind the washing machine. Heather laid her hands flat onto the big bag.
“Loving the food,” Heather said.
“Love?” Akeem asked. “I can do that. I’m a good lover.”
Heather raised her eyebrows. Realizing what he’d said, Akeem blushed.
“I mean …” Akeem started, and they laughed. “Will you show me how?”
Heather nodded. She and Akeem went into the laundry room. While they were there the wash finished and they stuffed the sheets into the dryer.
“The easiest way to do it is to think of the ingredients in the food,” Heather said. “See, there’s chicken. I love the chicken in the food.”
“There’s corn too,” Akeem pointed to the picture of corn on the bag.
“Love the corn from kernel to stalk to …” Heather said.
“What?” Heather asked.
“I can see it,” Akeem said. “And all the people who …”
“Make the food,” Heather finished his statement.
“Right!” Akeem said.
“You are a good lover,” Heather said.
Akeem laughed. Heather and Akeem worked on the food in the laundry room while Jill finished cleaning up the kitchen. When Sandy came through to vacuum up anything she missed, Jill went to follow up behind Heather and Akeem when they moved on to the food in the kitchen. Heather took the mop Jill had gotten out and mopped the floor. Akeem took the mop and water and threw it out.
Together, they made the house whole and infused with healing and love.
“What do you think?” Sandy asked Akeem.
“It feels different,” Akeem said.
They heard a car pull up in front.
“They’re here,” Jill said.
They went out to help Rodney get Mr. Chesterfield into the house.
Monday afternoon — 4:35 p.m. ETA
Yvonne hadn’t said a word since they stepped off the plane in Atlanta. She’d just stepped through every interaction with a determined look on her face. She didn’t even say goodbye to Jeraine and Schmidty when they raced off to the courthouse to file papers to stop this madness.
Tanesha watched her mother from the corner of her eye. She wasn’t sure if Yvonne was going to explode or simply dissolve into rage. Her mother could also go crazy. Tanesha closed her eyes as scenes from Yvonne’s drug days flashed before her eyes.
The cab pulled to a stop in front of Atlanta General. A herd of reporters and cameras were focused on the front of the hospital. Tanesha groaned.
“Y’all trying to avoid them reporters?” the cab driver asked.
“Is that possible?” Tanesha asked.
“My sister works here,” the cab driver said. “I can take you to the employee entrance.”
“That would be lovely,” Yvonne said.
Tanesha was so surprised that she gawked at her mother. Yvonne winked at Tanesha.
“I’ll call my sister,” the driver said. “She’ll meet you at the entrance.”
“Why are you helping us?” Tanesha asked.
The driver looked at her in the rearview mirror and started driving. He placed a call to his sister before looking at Tanesha again.
“You Miss T?” the cab driver asked.
“My father calls me that,” Tanesha said.
“That’s what I thought,” the cab driver said. “You going to take that boy home?”
“We’re here for Jabari,” Yvonne said.
“And you’ll keep him from that horrible woman?” the cab driver asked.
Tanesha scowled at the question, but Yvonne nodded.
“That boy deserves a lot more than that woman for a mother,” the cab driver said. “We saw the show where she put the boy on a plane and …”
The cab driver shook his head and sucked at his teeth. Tanesha glanced at her mother. Yvonne was grinning.
“What?” Tanesha asked.
“We make friends everywhere,” Yvonne said.
The cab slowed at the corner and the door opened. A man who had the muscles and blonde bowl cut like a cartoon He-man stepped into the cab.
“Hey!” Tanesha said.
“He’s with us,” Yvonne scooted over to make room for him.
“Mom!” Tanesha said.
“I was assigned to guard you,” He-man said. “Trece said to tell you that he couldn’t be here.”
The cab driver took a driveway near the back.
“You don’t think you need it, Tanesha?” He-man nodded toward the band of reporters waiting to get scoops at the employee entrance.
“What’s going on?” Tanesha asked.
“Someone needed some publicity,” He-man said.
“Annette,” Tanesha said under her breath.
“We hide the misdeeds of man with salacious misdirection,” He-man said.
“Churchill?” Tanesha asked.
“My uncle Chet,” He-man grinned. “He was a magician.”
The cab pulled to a stop by the door.
“This is the best I can do,” the cab driver said. “My sister’s waiting just inside.”
He-man paid the driver and got out of the cab. He helped Yvonne and Tanesha out of the cab and covered them with his enormous jacket. Tucked under He-man’s arms, they scurried past the yelling reports and into the employee entrance of the hospital. The cab driver’s sister let them inside.
“You Miss T?” the cab driver’s sister asked.
“Tanesha,” she said. “This is my mother, Yvonne.”
Tanesha looked at the bodyguard.
“This is He-man,” Tanesha said. The large man laughed. “He’s with us.”
“Good,” the woman said. “I’m Kareen. I’m Jabari’s nurse.”
“You are?” Yvonne asked. “What a lucky coincidence.”
Tanesha gave Yvonne a strong look. She had the sneaking suspicion that Yvonne had made all of this happen. But Yvonne just gave her a sweet smile.
“How is the child?” Yvonne asked.
“Did you bring the custody papers?” the nurse asked.
“I have them,” Tanesha said. “The last orders from the judge in Denver, but I thought …”
“They look legal to me,” Kareen said. “Come on. Your boy is waiting for you.”
With that Kareen turned in place and went to an employee elevator. They took the elevator up to the tenth floor and got off. From the elevator landing, they could hear people talking all at once.
“Shit,” Kareen said. “Stay here.”
Kareen went to the nurses’ station and called hospital security. While they watched two men in black uniforms arrived. In a few minutes, they escorted a camera crew off the floor. When the camera crew got close to them, He-man told them to turn away. The camera crew didn’t notice them. When they turned back, they saw Annette was screaming at Kareen at the nurse’s desk.
“This way,” He-man said.
He put his arm around Yvonne’s shoulder and another around Tanesha.
“How …?” Tanesha asked.
“I’ve been here with the boy since he got here,” He-man said. “You don’t think we’d leave him alone do you?”
“But …” Tanesha started.
“We have a soft spot for little sick kids,” He-man said.
“Of course you do,” Yvonne said.
He-man directed them down a hallway. They reached a door with a glass window in it.
“They don’t usually keep kids in these rooms,” He-man said. “But they didn’t want him exposed to the cameras.”
He-man pressed the door open. Tanesha blinked. For a split second, she could have sworn that she saw a giant elephant dancing around the room with a pink rider on its back. Jabari was laughing and cheering. When she blinked, Jabari was quietly sitting in his bed. Tanesha squinted to see if she could find Abi, who had to be here.
“Mommy?” Jabari asked.
Tanesha’s heart melted. All thoughts of finding Abi, and figuring out what was going on, fled her mind. She rushed to the bed. He threw his arms around her neck and Tanesha pulled Jabari onto her lap.
“I just love it when things work out,” Yvonne said. “Don’t you, He-man?”
“I do, Miss Yvonne,” He-man said. “I really do.”
Monday afternoon — 3:17 p.m. MTD
Denver , Colorado
“How is Mr. Chesterfield?” Blane asked after Heather finished catching him up.
She was standing with Akeem, Jill, and Sandy on the other side of the glass. Jill was still wearing her twin sandwich. Blane was sitting in a vinyl covered chair.
“He’s lost an eye,” Heather said. “Broken some ribs and …”
Rather than finish, Heather gave a grim nod.
“How awful,” Blane said.
“It’s pretty awful,” Heather said.
“And there was nothing …” Blane gestured to Jill. Jill shook her head.
“We can only help him heal now,” Jill said.
“But they think he will heal?” Blane asked.
“They’re pretty sure,” Jill said.
“And Jabari?” Blane asked.
Heather, Jill, and Sandy looked at each other. Akeem looked at the ground.
“What?” Blane asked.
“Just a lot of drama,” Sandy said. “The doctor told Yvonne that Jabari is doing really well. He’s in good spirits, especially now that Yvonne and Tanesha are with him.”
“Annette’s being an asshole?” Blane asked.
They nodded. Blane looked so ill that they’d agreed not to burden him with the awful details of Annette’s behavior.
“So today’s the day!” Jill said. “We wanted to be here to help you celebrate.”
“And Akeem?” Blane asked.
“Yeah, I know, right?” Akeem asked. “They’re teaching me how to be a lover.”
Blane raised his eyebrows and laughed. Akeem gave a cocky grin.
“He wants to learn how to heal things,” Heather said.
“I bet,” Blane smiled.
“You think this stuff works?” Akeem asked.
“It’s the only reason I’m alive,” Blane said.
“Fair enough,” Akeem nodded.
They waited in an awkward silence for a moment. The nurse and doctor came in behind them. They helped Heather dress in scrubs and asked everyone else to step back. Heather went into the room with the doctor and nurse while Jill, Sandy, and Akeem waited outside. They had just closed the door when Tanner, the twin on Jill’s back woke up. Sandy picked him up out of the holder and Akeem helped Jill get Bladen. With a little soothing the babies settled into being held.
Inside the room, Blane was back in bed and the nurse hooked up the cord blood to Blane’s IV. The doctor was talking a mile a minute, but they couldn’t hear what he was saying. Heather was holding Blane’s hand. They both looked overwhelmed.
Jacob and Sam came in the room. They waved to Blane. Sandy greeted Jacob with Tanner, who he took from her. Jacob kissed Jill’s cheek and stood behind her.
“We’re ready to start,” the doctor said over the speaker so they could hear. “Are you ready?”
“I’m ready,” Blane said.
“Ok,” Jill said in a low tone. “We want to focus our love on the blood going into Blane.”
“Heather, this is it,” the doctor said. “Are you ready?”
“I’m ready,” Heather said.
“Nurse?” the doctor asked.
The nurse turned the valve. They watched the red blood come into Blane’s IV and into his arm. Jill felt like she held her breath through the entire infusion.
“Taste garlic?” the doctor asked.
“I do,” Blane said. He glanced at Heather.
“I have to ask everyone to leave now,” the doctor said. “You need to sleep. The most important thing is for you to rest.”
Sam held open the door. Akeem and Sandy left.
“We’ll meet you out here,” said Sam before he followed Akeem out of the room.
Jill didn’t dare take her eyes off Blane. She felt more than saw her twins doing the same thing. Jacob put his arm around her and guided her from the room. They met at the elevator landing.
“We want to imagine that the cells are going into Blane’s bones,” Jill said. “They are growing and dividing. Can you see them?”
Akeem and Sandy nodded their heads.
“Good,” Jill said. “Me too.”
A few minutes later, Heather joined them. She looked worried and exhausted.
“Come on,” Jacob said. “We have dinner waiting for us at the Castle.”
They stepped onto the elevator together.
“I think Delphie made a casserole,” Jacob said.
Everyone groaned and he laughed.
“Mike’s running the grill,” Jacob said.
When they reached the ground floor, no one wanted to get off the elevator. Sam put his arm around Heather and guided her from the elevator. Sandy and Akeem followed. Jill stood on the elevator.
“You think he’s going to be all right?” Jill asked Jacob.
“I don’t know,” Jacob said.
With a nod, Jill and Bladen left the elevator. Tanner made a sound at his mother and brother’s departure.
“I hear you, son,” Jacob said.
They left the hospital in a worried silence.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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