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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN
Friday afternoon — 1:45 p.m.
“Where is my phone?” Jeraine yelled from the basement.
Tanesha looked up from her book when he started yelling. Fin gestured to the basement. She shook her head and went back to reading.
“Where is my phone!?” Jeraine’s voice moved around the basement.
“Should we help him?” Fin asked. “I can …”
Fin turned his hand over and Jeraine’s phone appeared in his palm.
“No,” Tanesha said. “Put that back.”
“But …” Fin pointed to Jeraine.
“He’s not talking to us,” Tanesha said. “He went to brain therapy this morning. He has a headache.”
“More reason to help him,” Fin said.
“He doesn’t know he’s talking about loud,” Tanesha said. “If you give him his phone, he’ll realize he’s acting a fool again. It’s horrible to watch. He just caves on the inside.”
Fin nodded. The phone disappeared.
“Plus, he should ask if he wants help,” Tanesha said.
Fin looked at Tanesha. Feeling his eyes, she said, “What?”
“Doesn’t he always need help?” Fin asked.
Tanesha chuckled and went back to her book. A few minutes later, Jeraine stomped up the stairs. He saw them studying at the dining room table and stopped at the top of the stairs. Unsure of what to do, he looked down in the basement.
“Hey,” Fin said. He made the phone appear. “This yours?”
“Yeah,” Jeraine said. He walked over to them. “Where’d you find it?”
“Here on the table,” Tanesha said. “Fin has the same phone. He thought yours was his.”
“Sorry man,” Fin said.
Jeraine took the phone from Fin and peered into its face.
“I hate this phone,” Jeraine said. “Hate, hate, hate it.”
“Why?” Fin asked.
“Why what?” Jeraine asked.
Tanesha looked up at Jeraine. Her eyes flicked to Fin.
“You’re thinking out loud,” Tanesha said.
Jeraine squinted at her.
“Head hurt?” Tanesha asked.
“Bad,” Jeraine said. “But I’ve gotta …”
Tanesha shook her head.
“But …” Jeraine started.
“Come on.” Tanesha closed her book and stood up. To Fin, she said, “I’ll be right back.”
Tanesha took Jeraine’s arm and walked with him to the stairs to their bedroom. Jeraine looked confused. He looked back at Fin.
“What about studying?” Jeraine asked.
“We have class soon,” Tanesha said. “This was just a short study session, remember?”
Jeraine rubbed his forehead. She nodded up the stairs and Jeraine went. Every step up he repeated the word, “Sorry.”
At the top of the stairs, she led him to the bed.
“You wanna …?” Jeraine’s voice slurred, and she smiled.
“Why don’t you take a nap?” Tanesha asked. “I have school. I’ll be back around six. We’re going to Mom’s to hang out with Jabari.”
“Jabari!” Jeraine stood straighter. “I’ve gotta …”
“Sleep,” Tanesha said.
“Jabari needs you rested,” Tanesha said.
She helped him sit on the side of their bed. She went into their bathroom for his medication.
“I’m gonna lose him,” Jeraine said in the bedroom. “Too stupid. Gonna lose him. Too sick. Gonna lose him.”
Tanesha grabbed Jeraine’s medication, a glass of water, and went back into their bedroom. When he saw her, he stopped talking.
“You’re not going to lose him,” Tanesha said. “It’s not going to happen.”
“But …” Jeraine said.
Tanesha gave him an inhaler which he used. She took the inhaler and gave him the pills in her hand. She gave him a glass of water and waited until he took the medication.
“You have a headache,” Tanesha said.
“My head hurts,” Jeraine said.
Tanesha helped him take off his shoes and get settled on the bed.
“You think I’m gonna lose him?” Jeraine asked.
“I don’t,” Tanesha said.
“You think I’m gonna lose you?”
“You stick to our agreement?” Tanesha asked.
“Then everything’s fine,” Tanesha said. “Sleep for a couple hours. Aunt Phy’s coming over to watch her shows. She’ll just be downstairs until I get be back. We’ll go to Mom’s for dinner and hang out with Jabari.”
“Jabari went to school today,” Jeraine said.
“He’s trying it out for few hours,” Tanesha said.
Jeraine stopped talking. Tanesha leaned over to see if he was asleep. His eyes were open. They flicked over to her. She grinned at him and he smiled. He was returning to himself as the meds started kicking in.
“I’m going to sleep for a while,” Jeraine said. “But I have to tell you that I hate my phone.”
“Okay,” Tanesha said. “Let’s get you another one.”
“Can’t I get somebody to carry it?” Jeraine asked.
“You mean you don’t hate the phone,” Tanesha laughed. “You hate having to carry it yourself?”
“Exactly,” Jeraine said.
“I’m going to school,” Tanesha said. “Don’t hire anyone until I get back.”
“’K, I’ll be right here,” Jeraine said.
She waited another minute and Jeraine was asleep. Smiling to herself, she started out toward the stairs.
“A sexy bikini clad phone holder,” Jeraine said.
“What?” Tanesha spun in place, but he was sound asleep. Shaking her head, she went down the stairs.
“He wants a sexy bikini clad woman to hold his phone,” Tanesha said to Fin, who smiled.
She packed her books into her backpack. They were just about to leave when Tanesha’s crazy Aunt Phy tapped on the door.
“How is he?” Aunt Phy asked Tanesha.
Always a fan of colorful clothing, Aunt Phy wore a wide broom skirt with bright flowers all over it, worn cowboy boots that were once bright yellow, and fuchsia top. Tanesha hugged the elderly woman.
“Not great,” Tanesha said. “Thank you for this.”
“I just love my shows,” Aunt Phy said.
Aunt Phy batted her eyes as if there was nothing else going on. Tanesha knew full well that Aunt Phy could watch her shows at home. Aunt Phy spotted Fin standing near the table.
“Good Afternoon, Prince Finegal.”
“Phynophyles,” Fin said.
To Tanesha’s amazement, Aunt Phy gave a slight bow which Fin returned.
“Go on,” Aunt Phy said, returning to her crazy self. “I’ve got this.”
“Thank you,” Tanesha said.
They left the house. Fin opened her door to his car. She got in and he went around to the driver’s seat.
“Phynophyles?” Tanesha asked.
“It is her name,” Fin said.
“Your grandmother’s lover happens to be a fairy,” Fin said.
“My grandmother’s what?” Tanesha sputtered.
Fin laughed and started the car. While Tanesha thought things through, he drove out of the neighborhood.
“Jeraine is struggling,” Fin said when she’d settled down.
“It’s the pressure,” Tanesha said. “He’s doing all his therapy and the writing and the studio work and us and Jabari. It’s too much for his brain right now.”
“Seems tough on you,” Fin said.
“As long as he’s trying, keeping to our agreements,” Tanesha nodded. “I’m okay with tough.”
They drove in silence for a few minutes.
“Are you going to tell him?” Fin asked.
“About Jabari?” Tanesha asked. “Not yet. Got to wait until he’s all there.”
“But you’re going to tell him, right?” Fin asked.
Tanesha stared out the window of the car. Fin glanced at her. He gave a rueful shake of his head at her and continued toward Anschutz.
Tanesha was silent rest of the trip.
Friday afternoon — 1:45 p.m.
“Thanks for coming,” Yvonne said to Abi.
“I love spending time with you,” Abi said. “You know that.”
Yvonne nodded and let Abi into her home. Abi stopped in the living room and turned to look at Yvonne.
“You seem angry,” Abi said.
“I’m furious!” Yvonne said.
Yvonne was such a sweet person that even her anger seemed sweet as well. When Yvonne led the way to the kitchen table, Abi grinned behind her back. Yvonne gestured to a chair and Abi sat down. As they had many, many times over the years. Abi watched Yvonne while she worked in the kitchen. Yvonne set a plate of chocolate-chip cookies in front of Abi and a pot of the tea Yvonne loved. Abi leaned away from the pot. Yvonne scowled.
“So it’s true,” Yvonne said.
“What’s true?” Abi asked.
“The tea tempers fairy powers,” Yvonne said.
“Is that what you’re angry about?” Abi asked. “Because if it is, I was only doing what I thought was best for you.”
Yvonne scowled at Abi and sat down across from her.
“What would Alvin have done if he knew you were a fairy?” Abi asked.
“He would have made me do more unnatural things,” Yvonne said.
“You’re not mad about the tea?”
“The tea?” Yvonne asked. “I like the tea. I was going to ask if there was a way to have the tea without the fairy power killing ingredients.”
Abi waved her hand over the pot.
“Did you fix it?” Yvonne asked.
“Good,” Yvonne said. “Because I want all of my fairy powers.”
“Uh …” Abi scowled. “Do you know how to use …”
“Of course not,” Yvonne said. “But you do!”
“Uh …” Abi said. “What are we doing?”
“We’re going to get that Annette and get her good!” Yvonne said.
Abi gave Yvonne a long look and wondered if Yvonne would even remember being angry with Annette an hour from now. Yvonne nodded her sincerity.
“And if you’re thinking I’ll forget,” Yvonne said. “I won’t. No way.”
“Uh …” Abi said.
“What?” Yvonne asked.
“You’re mad at Annette because …”
“She hurt Mr. Chesterfield!” Yvonne said. “She stole my boy Jabari and then gave him that horrible drug and she’s just awful, just awful, awful, awful.”
Yvonne gave an emphatic nod.
“She deserves …” Yvonne said. “Something horrible.”
“Like what?” Abi asked.
“She should suffer!” Yvonne said. “A lot!”
“More than she’s suffering now?” Abi asked.
“Hrmph,” Yvonne said and leaned back.
She picked up her tea cup and drank some tea.
“I want her to suffer,” Yvonne said. “A lot.”
“Why won’t you help me?” Yvonne asked.
“You don’t need my help,” Abi said.
“This situation is the law of natural, logical consequences,” Abi said.
“What?” Yvonne asked.
“I wish Edie were here,” Abi said. “She teaches Fairy 101 and has all this stuff down.”
“You try,” Yvonne said. She filled her tea cup and leaned back in her chair. “Go on.”
Abi sighed, and Yvonne waited. After a few minutes, Abi nodded.
“Okay, okay,” Abi said. “Fine.”
“There are different kinds of magic in the world,” Abi said. “We fairies wield fairy magic. Fairy magic is ethereal. We can move heavens and rearrange stars, stuff like that.”
“Move stuff around,” Yvonne said.
“Exactly,” Abi said. “Witches wield a different kind magic, which tends to be tied to the earth.”
“What’s that mean?”
“They have the power over the elements — fire, water, air, earth, stuff like that,” Abi said.
“Do we know any witches?” Yvonne asked.
“Delphie is technically considered a witch,” Abi said. “By knowing the future, she has a kind of control over it.”
“She changes the future by telling people about it,” Yvonne said.
“Exactly,” Abi said. “She’s an oracle, very, very rare, but it is witch magic. Witch magic is always tied to the earth.”
“Fairies are ethereal,” Yvonne said. “Witches are earth.”
“Exactly,” Abi said. “Angels are spirit magic.”
“Angels exist?” Yvonne asked.
“As much as fairies and witches,” Abi shrugged. “Human beings hold their own kind of magic.”
“They hold the magic of natural, logical consequences,” Abi said. “This is a sacred magic.”
Yvonne mouthed the words “sacred magic” and then shrugged.
“What is it?” Yvonne asked.
“In its simplest form, it’s cause and effect,” Abi said. “Turn on the stove, it gets hot.”
“Go to school, get a better job,” Yvonne said.
“Right,” Abi said. “Eat too much, gain weight.”
“Drink too much, lose your health, wealth, and family,” Yvonne said.
“Drugs too,” Abi said. “Sometimes this energy gets misaligned, like what happened to Rodney.”
“And you,” Abi said. “This is sacred magic. Balance eventually gets restored. But it can take a long time.”
“What about people who were killed or whatever unjustly?” Yvonne asked.
“That’s complicated,” Abi said.
“Because sometimes it’s not worked out,” Abi said. “As a sacred magic, the situation leaves a stain on the hearts and minds of people.”
Yvonne nodded like she understood, but she didn’t really. She was about to ask when Abi started talking about.
“Annette is already experiencing the effects of her behavior,” Abi said.
“No she doesn’t!” Yvonne’s voice became indignant. “She gets to live scot-free!”
“She doesn’t pay her taxes?” Abi asked.
“What?” Yvonne asked.
“You said she lives scot-free and I …”
“She doesn’t feel the consequences of her actions,” Yvonne said. “Jabari does! My Tannie does!”
“Oh,” Abi looked confused.
“What did you think I meant?”
“A scot is a name for taxes — Roman scot, Queen’s scot, and the like,” Abi said. “I figured she didn’t pay her taxes, which seemed kind of dumb.”
Yvonne smiled and shook her head. Relieved to see Yvonne smile, Abi shrugged.
“So what did you mean about this sacred magic and Annette?” Yvonne asked.
“She’s miserable,” Abi said. “She doesn’t have love in her life. She’s lost her children. She’s going to go to prison. She’s on that stupid television show so everybody knows about it. What more could you do to her?”
“I could take her heart out,” Yvonne’s voice was low and dangerous.
“What heart?” Abi asked.
“Don’t mess in the magic of natural, logical consequences,” Abi said. “I’ve seen too many people try. They lose every time.”
“Then how do I get back at her?” Yvonne asked.
“You trust that the magic will get back at her,” Abi said. “And you focus your attention on making Jabari the healthiest, happiest, grandbaby in the world.”
“Grandbaby?” Yvonne looked confused.
“Oh, come on!” Abi said. “You know he’s Tannie’s.”
“I think he looks just like Rodney,” Yvonne smiled.
Abi smiled and Yvonne went back to drinking tea.
“I still hate her,” Yvonne said.
“I understand,” Abi said. “Someday, you’ll just feel sorry for her.”
Yvonne gave a slight shake of her head.
“Yeah, I didn’t think so,” Abi said.
“What do you want to do now?” Abi asked.
“I want you to show me how to do magic,” Yvonne said.
“Like what?” Abi asked.
“I don’t know,” Yvonne said.
“I don’t know either,” Abi looked embarrassed. “Maybe we should ask Edie.”
“Okay!” Yvonne said. “How …”
Abi and Yvonne swooshed across town to the Castle. They landed in the living room. Yvonne looked a little green.
“Hello,” Delphie said. “I didn’t know you were coming!”
“I’m showing magic to Yvonne,” Abi said.
“That sounds fun,” Delphie said. “Now come along.”
“Where are we going?” Abi whispered to Yvonne.
Yvonne shrugged. Delphie led them out to the back lawn where Edie was teaching Katy fairy magic while Paddie cheered her on.
“You can learn with Katy,” Delphie said. “The twins are trying out daycare today so that Katy can get some one-on-one time with Edie.”
“That sounds lovely!” Yvonne said.
She went out to where Edie was standing. Delphie blocked Abi from going out.
“Did you take care of the Annette thing?” Delphie asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Abi said.
“She’s not going to …” Delphie said.
“I don’t think so,” Abi said.
“Good,” Delphie said. “That would have been really bad.”
“Well, come along,” Delphie said. “We’ll make some snacks and have them on the deck. After all, we have a baby to grow!”
Completely disarmed by Delphi, Abi blushed. Delphie shrugged and went into the kitchen. Abi followed.
Friday afternoon — 1:45 p.m.
Charlie’s mind started complaining long before he bothered opening his eyes. At Honey’s insistence, they had decreased the amount of morphine he could have. He was lucid and in terrible pain.
He hated pain.
He’d heard someone come into his room and sit next to his bed. Rather than opening his eyes to engage whoever was there, he lay in a seething ocean of rage and hatred.
“I know you’re awake,” Maresol said.
Charlie’s eyes popped open.
“Angry?” Maresol asked.
Charlie gave a slight nod and yelped with pain. She came to sit on his bed. He looked up into her face. She was brown skinned and had dark eyes. Her black hair was arranged around a large bandage on her head. She wasn’t pretty per se, but there was something about her that radiated beauty. Charlie felt a well of love for her. He looked away. Maresol took his hand.
“You’re probably wondering why I’m here,” Maresol said.
“I saw you with my dad,” Charlie said, but didn’t look at her.
“Oh?” Maresol asked.
“When I was in between,” Charlie said. “We walked you to your operating room.”
“Ah,” Maresol said.
“You don’t remember,” Charlie said.
“No,” Maresol’s voice was laced with sorrow. “I’d like to see your father again.”
“He’s here,” Charlie said.
Maresol looked around the room.
“I don’t see him either,” Charlie said. “He just said he was with you or me and Sis or Seth.”
Maresol smiled. Charlie noticed her straight white teeth.
“How’d you get such nice teeth?” Charlie asked, and then realized that was probably not appropriate. His eyes flicked to Maresol. She smiled at him.
“O’Malley,” Maresol said.
“Seth made you get new teeth?” Charlie asked.
“I wanted pretty teeth,” Maresol said.
“Oh,” Charlie said. “Me too. That’s why I noticed.”
Maresol smiled again.
“I had to come to the hospital to get a test,” Maresol said. “So I thought I’d sit with you for a while. We can talk or you can sleep.”
“I’d rather talk,” Charlie said.
“Of course,” Maresol smiled.
“Dad was a talker?”
Maresol nodded and Charlie smiled. He was starting to like the idea that he was like his father.
“What test did you have to get?” Charlie asked.
“Brain scan,” Maresol said. “They want to make sure my brain is working. I’m kind of an old gal to get such a bump on the head.”
“Nice of you not to argue,” Maresol smiled.
“About being old or the bump on the head?” Charlie asked.
Maresol laughed and Charlie smiled.
“Where’s your gaggle of girlfriends?” Charlie asked.
“Jeraine’s mom, Delphie, Tanesha’s mom,” Charlie said. “I call them the old girlfriends.”
“As opposed to Sandy’s girlfriends?” Maresol asked.
“Yep,” Charlie said.
“Well, it may surprise you but Delphie and Yvonne wanted me to talk to you,” Maresol said. “They felt that my special connection to your father would help you now.”
“And Jeraine’s mom?” Charlie asked.
“She’s in the cafeteria buying hamburgers,” Maresol smiled.
“Should we wait?” Charlie asked.
“I don’t know why,” Maresol said.
“Do I get a hamburger?” Charlie asked.
“I think you get two,” Maresol smiled.
“Good!” Charlie smiled. “What’s wrong with your head?”
“I have a big hole in it,” Maresol said and smiled.
“No, really,” Charlie felt a well of concern for the woman his father loved. She smiled.
“I am all right,” Maresol said. “At my age, they want to check for things like dementia.”
“My brain is okay,” Maresol said. “Mostly, I’m a little tired.”
Not sure what to say, Charlie nodded.
“How come Delphie and Yvonne wanted you to talk to me?” Charlie asked.
“I wondered if you’d think about coming to our house to recover,” Maresol said. “I know your sister is trying to make it all work, but I have time. Seth has space. We have a pool and piles of money. We’ve done it before.”
“Piles of money?” Charlie chuckled.
“You know what I mean,” Maresol said.
“You mean that Seth would pay for therapists and everything if I’m there,” Charlie said.
“He would if you weren’t, but Sandy would never ask,” Maresol said.
“What if I get mean?” Charlie asked. His voice became emphatic, “I fucking hate this!”
“Yes,” Maresol said. “I imagine you do.”
“And if I swear and stuff?”
“I’ve seen worse,” Maresol said. “I helped your father and Seth quit drugs.”
Charlie raised his eyebrows. It wasn’t hard to imagine that helping his father and Seth quit drugs was hell.
“Can I talk to Sandy?” Charlie asked.
“Please do,” Maresol said. “In the meantime, I brought my i-whatever-this-thing-is-called. I thought we could watch a movie.”
“What would we watch?”
“Whatever you’d like,” Maresol said.
“Really?” Charlie asked.
“Seth. Money. Time,” Maresol said.
Charlie nodded. Maresol held the iPad and Charlie pointed. They settled into watch a stupid comedy. While the movie played, Charlie watched Maresol. She was different than he’d thought she was. She glanced at him and smiled. He really liked her. He’d just turned his attention back to the movie when Dionne came in with burgers.
Charlie smiled. This could work out really, really well.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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