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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINE
“Your spider is dead,” Rodney said.
“Spider is…” Yvonne swallowed hard. Her head moved up and down, but her eyes held Rodney’s. “And that man?”
“Came to kill you, us,” Rodney said.
“Because of the spider?” Yvonne asked.
She looked at Dionne, who looked away a little too quickly. Yvonne’s head went up and down very slowly. Her mouth opened and closed. Her eyes welled with tears. She turned away from them and took out a cellphone from her pocket.
“Tannie?” Yvonne asked into the phone.
She listened for a moment and put the phone on speaker.
“Tannie?” Yvonne asked. “Your dad and Dionne are here too.”
“Tannie, the spider’s dead,” Yvonne said. “Killed by some people who tried to kill us.”
“Oh Mom,” Tanesha’s voice was mixed with sorrow and concern. “Are you all right?”
“You told me, but I don’t remember,” Yvonne said. “What do I do now that the spiders dead? You said it over and over again. I know I should remember, but I…”
“You get to live the rest of your life in peace,” Tanesha said. “When the spider is dead, you’ll get to live the rest of your life in peace.”
“I do?” Yvonne asked. Rodney came up behind her and wrapped his hands around her waist.
“I used to say that,” Tanesha said. “I’d say something different now.”
“Oh? What would you say?” Yvonne asked. Fat tears fell from her eyes.
“Now that the spider is dead, you get to live your life with love, peace, joy, and much, much happiness,” Tanesha said. “A real happily ever after.”
“That sounds nice,” Yvonne said. “I’d like that.”
“Sounds to me like you’d better get busy,” Tanesha said.
“I’ll do it,” Yvonne said.
“Can I talk to Dad?” Tanesha asked.
Yvonne gave Rodney the phone. He wiped her face with his big hands. She held his hand to her cheek and he kissed her nose. He took the phone from her and Dionne hugged her. Rodney clicked it off speaker and walked away. He talked to Tanesha for a moment while Yvonne watched. He set the phone down and smiled at Yvonne.
“You love birds don’t need me here,” Dionne said with a laugh. She headed for her room.
“Bumpy’ll be here in a half hour,” Rodney said.
Dionne stopped at the door. With her back to them, she nodded.
“Miss T thought we might want to drive back,” Rodney said.
“Sounds like a plan,” Dionne glanced at him. “We’re not leaving tonight, are we?”
“Not tonight,” Rodney said. “We’ll spend another night under the Feds protection.”
“But Bumpy will be here?” For the first time since all of this began, Dionne’s face reflected her fear and sadness.
“He’ll be here,” Rodney said.
Dionne nodded. She picked up the larger bag and went into one of the suite’s bedrooms.
“Happily ever after?” Rodney asked Yvonne.
Yvonne wasn’t crying any longer. She was silent now, almost too still. Yvonne watched his face.
“Don’t you think it’s about time?” Rodney asked.
Yvonne’s eyes squinted for a moment. She opened her mouth and then shook her head.
“What is it?” Rodney rested his forearms on her shoulders and leaned his head in.
“Nothing,” Yvonne said.
“I know you have mixed feelings,” Rodney said. “I know that you are such a loving person that you even loved the spider. I know that this was a huge part of your life, and that it’s not easy to deal with all of the change. I know…”
Yvonne shook her head, and he stopped talking.
“How did he die?” Yvonne asked.
“Bullet through his forehead,” Rodney said. “His daughter was with him.”
“Amelie?” Yvonne’s voice rose with fear. Her hand pressed to her heart.
“You remembered Seth’s girlfriend,” Rodney grinned.
“I’m supposed to be in her wedding,” Yvonne said. “Is she…?”
“No,” Rodney said. “Her younger sister.”
“Horrible,” Yvonne nodded.
“Did he suffer much?” Yvonne asked in a quiet voice.
“I don’t think so,” Rodney said. “Don’t worry, Yvonne. His death was immediate.”
He gave her a soft smile and stroked her cheek.
“You are very sweet,” he said.
She turned away from him and walked to the window.
“Stop!” Rodney said before she moved the curtain. “That’s how he was killed.”
Yvonne’s hand lightly patted the fabric.
“Please talk to me,” Rodney said. “I can handle it.”
Yvonne didn’t turn around.
“You’re heartbroken,” Rodney said.
When Yvonne didn’t say anything, Rodney swallowed hard. Deep in his heart, he always believed that she had loved Aaron Alvin. Certainly that’s what Alvin had said. Her own mother believed that Yvonne was with Alvin by choice. In this moment, Rodney felt as if a sword had run through his heart. His shoulders slumped forward with the weight of what felt like the truth. Feeling Yvonne’s eyes, he looked up at her.
“You’re an idiot,” Yvonne said.
“I’m a…” Rodney shook his head. “What?”
“You think I’m in love with the spider,” Yvonne said.
“No,” Yvonne said. “Do you know what that man did to me? To Tannie? And you…”
She shook her head.
“I what?” Rodney asked.
“You think I love him because it’s easier for you,” Yvonne said. “Then you’re the only one who suffered.”
Rodney swallowed hard and blinked.
“He’s a spider,” Yvonne said. “What do spider’s do?”
“They spin webs to capture living beings so they can suck the life out of them,” Yvonne said. “Even dead, he still has the power to do that to you.”
She gave a quick shake of her head.
“If you don’t love him, then why are you upset?” Rodney asked. He stood a little straighter and felt a little braver. He scowled at her.
She snorted a laugh and looked up at the ceiling. Her lips moved as if she was whispering.
“What’s that?” Rodney asked.
“I’m asking God for patience,” Yvonne said.
“Patience!” Rodney said. “You…”
“I’m mad,” Yvonne said.
“Mad that your boyfriend’s dead?” Rodney spit out.
The second she laughed, he felt like an idiot. He put his hands on his hips and looked down at the ground.
“Why is that funny?” Rodney asked.
“I’m mad for two reasons.” Yvonne looked away. She held out one finger and then another. “No three reasons.”
“And what are your three reasons?” Rodney asked. Staring at the carpet, he shuffled his feet.
“One,” Yvonne said. “I’m furious that I didn’t get to kill him myself.”
Rodney’s head jerked up. His mouth moved as he repeated her words.
“Number two!” Yvonne said. “I’m mad that he didn’t suffer. If there was any fairness in this world, he would have suffered a slow and very painful death.”
Rodney grinned at her.
“Number three!” Yvonne said. “I’m mad because he managed to kill that poor young girl who did nothing but happen to have him as her father. And four…!”
“I thought there were only three,” Rodney said.
“I have a right to be as mad as I’d like!” Yvonne said. “Four belongs to you. You still think that I loved him!”
She shook her head.
“You’re an idiot,” Yvonne said.
“You have to pity the mentally infirmed,” Rodney said.
“No, I don’t,” Yvonne said. “What’s it going to take for you, Rodney? When are you going to see that this thing was done to us — me, you, and Tannie? When are you going to see that you’re not the one who suffered the most?”
“I suppose that was you,” Rodney’s head moved up and down in agreement.
“No, dummy,” Yvonne said. “The one who suffered the most was Tannie. She had to grow up with that horrible woman. She had to have a slave as a mother. She didn’t even know she had a daddy until she was too old to need one. She has had to be strong for me and for you and for her Gran and for everybody. She’s amazing and she…”
“You’re right,” Rodney said.
“Of course, I’m right,” Yvonne said.
“I’m sorry,” Rodney said.
“Don’t be sorry,” Yvonne said. “Get over it.”
“Get over it?” Rodney asked. He shook his head. “It’s not that easy. I remember.”
“Oh, and I don’t?” Yvonne scowled. “I remember enough. You want a happily ever after, then you need to get over it. Seriously.”
“I can’t help it,” Rodney said. “These feeling… they come up and take over. I can’t breathe or think. I…”
“Fine,” Yvonne said, “You can ask me. I promise to answer you truthfully and not just get mad.”
“And quiet,” Rodney said. “You scare me when you’re so quiet.’
“Good to know,” Yvonne said.
She shook her head at him. Without saying another word, she turned and went into the open bedroom off the suite. He stared at the spot where she stood for a moment.
“You really are an idiot.” Her voice came from inside the bedroom.
Laughing at himself, he went in the room and shut the door.
Thursday morning — 11:31 a.m.
Heather had heard about the power of an Olympian over human beings, but she’d never seen it in action. She’d certainly never experienced in relation to anything in her own life. But with everything that was going on, the power of Olympia was the only thing that made any sense.
Unlike her usual bumbling life, everything was going abnormally good. In fact, everything was going perfectly. And not just everything, everyone was behaving perfectly.
Her girlfriends were perfect, like they always. Then again, they were immune to Olympian ways.
Everyone else was acting perfectly. The nurses went out of their way to be nice to Heather. Her crotchety old doctor was cheerful and calm. He even allowed Camilla, the midwife that worked with Blane, to facilitate her labor. And Camilla hadn’t said anything snarky to anyone the entire time she’d been there.
Blane’s connection to the birthing room was crystal clear and without any interference. A male nurse fixed it so that Blane’s face was on the big screen television, and he could see her through a tablet computer they’d borrowed from a nurse. It worked so well, it was almost like he was right there with her.
Heather grinned. She could get used to this!
“Heather?” Camilla asked from her spot between her legs. “We’re almost there. How are you doing?”
Jill sat on her left side and Sandy on her right. Tanesha was standing just behind Camilla. Because Camilla was so small, Tanesha had a full view of everything that was going on. Heather glanced at Tanesha and she nodded in agreement. They would have a baby soon.
“One, two, three…” Blane counted the time between her breaths.
“Great,” Heather said. “Happy.”
“Deep cleansing breath,” Blane said.
Heather took a deep breath and grunted.
“Feels like he’s coming,” Heather grunted.
“No,” Camilla said from between her legs. “But soon, very soon.”
“Hang in there, Heather,” Blane said. “You always run out of patience at the end of things. Remember these last moments are as important as the first ones!”
His voice was almost too chipper. She glanced up at him, and he raised his eyebrows.
“Breathing is important,” he said.
“What are you going to name him?” Camilla said.
“They haven’t decided,” Jill said. “They wanted to see him first.”
Heather grunted in agreement.
“They had a whole name picked out for their first son, but he was born in a MAC store,” Jill said. “They call him ‘Mack’.”
“How are we doing?” the doctor asked as he came into the room.
He seemed so happy that Jill scowled and glanced at Sandy, who shrugged. Jill mouthed, “Drugs?” Sandy smiled. Heather grinned.
“What?” Jill leaned forward to say in a low voice.
“Things are working out,” Heather said.
Sandy held Heather’s hand to her heart, and Jill smiled.
“Hey!” Blane said. “Stop that! Heather, your breathing!”
“Looks like we won’t have to worry about that,” the doctor said. He winked at Camilla. “Are you ready?”
“She needs…” Camilla started.
“I know, I know,” the doctor said. He touched Camilla’s shoulder. “You’ve got a good one here, Heather.”
Heather nodded so as not to disrupt her breathing. The doctor’s pager beeped. He took it out and read it.
“I’ll be right back,” the doctor said.
Camilla sneered at his back as he left. When she turned back the Heather, she smiled.
“You’re positively glowing,” Camilla said.
Tanesha looked at Camilla and then at Heather.
“No really,” Tanesha said. “You’re glowing golden light.”
“It’s… the… light… of…” Heather huffed. “Olympia.”
Camilla raised an eyebrow to Heather and shook her head. Used to the insanity of childbirth, she went back to checking the babies progress.
“Another present from Zeus?” Jill asked in a low voice.
“Hera,” Heather said. “She’s the mother of all life.”
Upon saying her name, the golden light in the room increased. Heather had to squint to see. Jill and Sandy were a wash of light. She couldn’t see Blane on the television. In the intense light, she saw the barest outline of Hera. The Goddess smiled at Heather.
“Do… you… see…?” Heather gestured to where Hera stood.
“What?” Jill leaned forward to Heather.
“Oooh,” Camilla said. She glanced at Tanesha, “You page the doctor. You.” She pointed to Sandy, “Get the nurses.”
Jill moved to stand up but Camilla said, “You stay.”
“Blane?” Camilla asked in a loud voice.
“Yes,” Blane’s head on the television set said.
“We’re having a baby,” Camilla said.
Overwhelmed by the golden light, Heather felt herself lifted out of the pain of child birth. She felt only bliss and love. She found a golden spirit of herself standing next to Hera. The Goddess gave golden Heather a hug.
“It’s time,” Hera said.
“Push now,” Camilla said.
Heather marveled that her body responded to the midwife while she stood in golden form. The nurses ran into the room. One nurse gave orders and another left the room.
“One more time,” Camilla said.
“We’ve got this!” Blane said. “Come on, Heather!”
“Push, push, push!” Camilla said.
The doctor race through the door. His shoulder nudged Camilla out of the way. Heather watched her physical-self give birth to her son. From her vantage point, her son seemed to form from the golden light itself. He looked into her eyes and gave her a smile. Just then, the doctor rubbed the baby’s foot. He howled hello to the world.
Blane began to weep. The girlfriends cheered. Heather glanced at Hera, who nodded to her.
“He will be mighty,” Hera said. “A wonderful son.”
The Goddess leaned forward to kiss Heather’s cheek.
“Would you like to stay?” Hera’s voice was breezy. “You can come to join our court and leave all this mess to these humans.”
In the birthing room, Camilla set the baby in her arms.
“Perses said I could have one lifetime,” Heather said.
“Is that your wish?” Hera asked.
“It is,” Heather said.
“It shall be done,” Hera said.
Her golden form walked to where the baby lay on Heather’s physical-self’s chest. Hera sprinkled golden dust on the boy and on Heather’s physical-self.
“I have already attended to your other son,” Hera said. “Your husband and the girl child.”
“Tiffanie?” Heather asked.
“She belongs to you,” Hera said. “They will have luck.”
“Thank you,” Heather bowed her head.
Hera touched Heather’s chin and she looked up.
“It is I who am still in your debt,” Hera kissed her cheek again. “Go on.”
Heather hugged Hera for a moment before stepping back. She walked to the bed. Lying down, she merged with her physical-self. In the rejoining, she felt a flood of emotions, pain, and immense joy. She kissed the top of her son’s head. A nurse whisked him away to be tested for HIV and HepC.
“That was fun,” Sandy said. She leaned close to Heather, “But who was that woman?”
“Woman?” Heather asked.
Jill nodded to the question.
“I’m just wondering if she’ll come when I have a baby,” Tanesha said.
They laughed. The nurse brought the baby back with Delphie and Sam on her heels. Delphie took one look around the room and grinned at Heather.
“There’s a distinct glow,” Delphie said with a nod to Heather.
“And the name?” Sam asked.
“We don’t have one,” Heather said. “We thought we’d wait until Blane was home.”
“Good idea,” Sam said.
He leaned over to kiss her cheek. Delphie took the baby from her and Heather leaned back. She watched her son welcomed into this world in the loving arms of one friend and another.
“Hey,” Blane said.
“I forgot you were there,” Heather said. She smiled.
“You did good,” Blane said.
For the first time, she realized how peaked he looked. He gave a slight nod to acknowledge the thought.
“The excitement’s over,” Heather said. “You should rest. I’ll bring him by as soon as I can.”
“You’d better,” Blane said. “Love you, Heather.”
“Love you too,” Heather said.
She waved and he clicked off the camera. Jill took her hand.
“He’s beautiful,” Jill said.
“Very,” Sandy said, as she retook her place on the other side of Heather.
“You should rest while you can,” Jill said.
Heather closed her eyes and she was back in the volcano that had once held the sea of amber. She was standing on the edge of a molten lava cliff looking out onto the bowl. The sea of amber was long gone. The sand that she’d sunk into had disappeared under the lava. The molten lava steamed with heat. She was sure that by the end of the day, the lava would overflow this bowl. In a matter of days, the entire island would be consumed with lava.
“Why am I here?” Heather asked.
“We wanted to say good-bye,” a male voice came from behind her.
Heather turned around to see the spirit of dark olive green serpent. Returned to his earlier glory, he stood among thousands of serpents’ spirits.
“With the birth of your son, we were able to transition,” he said. “We will be able to rest in peace, now.”
The host of serpents focused on Heather.
“Thank you,” the dark olive green serpent said.
With his words, the spirits of the serpents began to fade. Soon only the dark olive green serpent’s spirit stood before her. He bowed his head in acknowledgement of the gift she’d given and disappeared. Heather felt her eyes well with tears. She turned back to the bowl and watched the lava for a while. She was just wondering how she was going to get home when a gorgeous maroon dragon landed behind her.
“Hedone,” the dragon said.
The size of a large transportation truck, the dragon coiled on itself to fit on the shelf with her.
“Yes?” Heather asked.
“You did good,” the dragon said.
With that, Heather opened her eyes.
“Here she is!” Delphie said and set her baby in her arms.
“You did good,” Delphie said and winked.
Heather looked at her son and smiled.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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