Chapter One Hundred and Eighty Eight : Interview
One day later
Monday morning — 7:37 A.M. MDT
“We are not having this conversation,” Sandy slammed the back door of their SUV.
“But…” Noelle scooted in from the other side to sit next to Rachel’s car seat.
“We want to know,” Sissy moved to sit next to Charlie in the far back. “Why won’t you talk about dinner?”
“Because she’s pissed off,” Nash slammed the door and sat next to Noelle.
“Don’t say that word, Nash,” Sandy said.
“Which one?” Nash asked. “Because?”
Sandy gave him a dark look in the rearview mirror.
“Two dollars in the jar,” Noelle whispered.
“Seat belts?” Sandy turned around to check.
The kids held up their seat belts to show they were fastened. Nash took the money out of his pocket and tossed it toward the front seat. Shaking her head at him, Sandy started the SUV and pulled out of the Castle driveway.
“I hate this car,” Sandy said under her breath.
“Is that why you’re mad?” Nash asked.
“I’m mad because…” Sandy turned right on Seventeenth Avenue. Nash had the earliest and was their first drop off at the Park Hill School. “… oh never mind.”
“She’s mad because Addy’s dad is an asshole,” Charlie gave Nash two dollar bills and Nash threw them in the front seat. “He brought up stuff.”
“Stuff?” Noelle turned around to look at him.
“He interrogated me about my past,” Sandy said. “He said Charlie couldn’t see Addy unless I answered a few of his questions. He only asked so he could get his… rocks off.”
Stopped at the light at Josephine, Sandy dug in her purse and added a dollar to growing pile of money.
“What did Daddy do?” Noelle asked.
“Your Dad…” Sandy continued through the light. “Sissy, you sure you don’t want me to drop you here at East?”
“No, I want to go with everyone to drop off,” Sissy said. “I’ve never done it before and…”
“Just wanted to check.” Sandy drove past EastHigh School.
“Aden completely lost it,” Charlie said.
“Really?” Noelle’s eyes were big. “I’ve only seen him do that at Nuala.”
“That asshole started…”
“Mom!” Noelle said.
“You keep track, honey,” Sandy said.
“Okay,” Noelle said.
“Your Dad was mad and stopped him from asking questions about me. You know how he can be. He just said, ‘That’s enough.’ Then the asshole started ripping into his own daughter calling her a whore and a slut,” Sandy said. “Your Dad lost it. It wasn’t just me.”
“Seven dollars,” Noelle said.
“Whore and slut too,” Sissy said.
“Nine dollars,” Noelle said.
“Officially, I was quoting but let’s make it an even ten,” Sandy pulled up to the light at Colorado Boulevard and put ten dollar bill on the pile.
“What did you do, Charlie?” Sissy asked.
“I would have been p… really mad,” Nash said.
“What could I do? I met Addy on the streets a bunch of years ago. Her dad had kicked her out. He’s the reason she’s…” Charlie glanced from Noelle to Sissy. “…advanced for her age. He thinks it’s my fault. But Sandy’s right. Shi-dai lost his shit after he started saying stuff about Addy.”
“What did he do?” Noelle asked. “You said the s-word too.”
“We’re almost there, Charlie,” Sandy said. “Talk fast.”
“Shi-dai told him that his family wouldn’t be bullied,” Charlie passed two dollars forward. “Me too. As family.”
“Duh.” Nash shook his head at Charlie.
“Nash!” Sandy said.
He passed forward another dollar bill.
“Aden’s going to call our social worker today to see if there’s anything we can do for Addy.”
“Ok, Nash, there’s Teddy,” Sandy said. “Good luck today. Call me if you need anything. Love you!’
Teddy was standing near the front of the school waiting for Nash. Nash got out and Noelle followed him.
“Sissy can you get her back in the car?” Sandy asked.
“Noelle!” Sissy yelled.
“There goes my ear drum,” Sandy said.
Noelle got back in the car and they continued on to the Marlowe school.
“What happens now?” Noelle asked.
“I can’t go out with her anymore,” Charlie said.
“You’re not going to sneak around?” Sissy asked. “That’s what you guys used to do.”
“I don’t think I can get away with it,” Charlie said. “I don’t drive and they live in Westminster and…”
“You promised you wouldn’t sneak around,” Sandy said.
“See, I promised I wouldn’t sneak around. That’s what I meant to say,” Charlie nodded to Sissy. “When do I get my driver’s permit?”
Noelle squealed and laughed. They pulled into a spot in the Marlowe School parking lot. Sandy was about to get out when Anjelika opened the back door.
“Good morning,” Jill’s mother said. “I can take beautiful Rachel. I know you’re in a hurry.”
“I hate to…” Sandy started.
Rachel cooed ‘hello’ to Anjelika.
“She’ll be fine,” Anjelika said. “Wish Tanesha good luck. I’m very excited for her.”
“Bye Mom,” Noelle leaned over to kiss Sandy and was out of the car. Sandy waited until they were across the lot before heading out onto Eighteenth Avenue back toward the Castle.
“What’s going on with Tanesha?” Charlie asked.
“The girls and I are taking her to her medical school orientation,”Sandy said. “That’s why I’m driving this boat. It fits her bicycle.”
“Fun,” Sissy clapped.
“She’s pretty excited and pretty scared,” Sandy said. “But mostly we want to hear how her interview went yesterday.”
“Diane Sawyer,” Charlie said.
“How did it go?” Sissy asked.
“That’s what I’m going to find out,” Sandy said. “Okay, Sis. You have your meds for the nurse? Your notes? You know where you’re supposed to go?”
“I’m all set,” Sissy said. “Jake took me through the school again last night so I’d know where my classes are and stuff. Lucky he has those keys.”
“Yes, keys,” Sandy said. “You’ll remember not to tell anyone about his… keys, right?”
“I won’t tell,” Sissy said. “And I won’t be lost. Love you.”
Sissy leaned over the seat to hug Sandy. She hugged Charlie.
“Good luck!” Sandy said.
“I have my phone,” Sissy said. “I’ll call if anything happens and I’ll see Charlie at four o’clock for basketball tryouts.”
Sandy and Charlie waved as Sissy walked into the entrance of East High.
“Are you ready for your first day?” Sandy asked.
“I’m all set,” Charlie said. “I have my own office room Aden and Jake set up for me on the first floor at the Castle. My computer and my books are there waiting for me. Delphie’s going to check in on me. Don’t worry Sandy. I can do this.”
Sandy stopped the big SUV in front of the Castle to drop him off.
“Anjelika will be here after work to check my stuff and sign me up for basketball,” Charlie said. “Love you.”
Charlie closed the door and waved through the window. Sandy smiled at him. She waited only a moment before Jill pulled up with Tanesha and Heather. Tanesha stuck her bicycle in the back of the SUV as the women got in.
“How was drop off?” Jill asked.
“Crazy,” Sandy said.
“What’s this stack of money?” Tanesha picked up the dollar bills from the passenger seat.
“Swear jar,” Sandy said.
“From one conversation?” Tanesha asked.
“At this rate, we can buy ski passes.”
“At this rate, you’ll have enough money to fly to the Alps,” Tanesha laughed.
Laughing, Sandy started the journey toward Tanesha’s new life.
Monday morning — 10:37 A.M. EDT New York City
“Which clip do you want to use?” the editor for Primetime turned to look at their host.
“Let’s watch them both,” she said.
“This was my favorite,” the editor said. “I like how she’s not intimidated by you and how she ends it with talking about relating.”
He leaned over, pressed a button, and Tanesha’s image came on the screen.
“Um, what was the question?” Tanesha looked up from her tea cup and into the camera.
“You’re a smart, independent, attractive woman,” the host said. “Why would you stay in this abusive relationship?”
“In the first place,” Tanesha set her tea cup down. The camera closed in until it framed her face. “Jeraine isn’t abusive. At least not to me. I think if you talked to all of his women, you’d find he’s funny, smart, and great to be around. We have great conversations and laugh a lot.”
“Don’t you think…”
“But I agree with you that this addiction is abusive to both of us,” Tanesha said. “And for his part in it? The drinking and drugging to bring out his addiction? I have been injured by his choices. There were a few times in my life when I thought I’d never be able to take another breath because of something he did or didn’t do. He has hurt me. His addiction has hurt me even worse.”
“I’m getting there,” Tanesha smiled. “Just like he did, I’ve made my choices along the way. Sometimes, I’ve waited for him. Sometimes, we’ve spent weeks together in absolute bliss. And there’ve been years I haven’t heard or thought of him at all.”
“You haven’t waited around for him.”
“I have,” Tanesha said. “But not always. I made choices for my life as it made sense to me at that place and time.”
“I guess the money…”
“I don’t have access to his money,” Tanesha said. “I didn’t even know we were still married until he was in rehab last time. I mean, he says I have access to his money but… That’s what I mean by choice. I chose to live free of his money. And it’s not like I’ve been knitting my chastity belt while he’s out hot dogging it. I’ve lived every day. I’ve loved, gone to college, had relationships, worked jobs, dated, and… Today, my choice is to see where this goes.”
“She gave me one last chance,” Jeraine’s voice came from the side. The camera zoomed out to show him standing by her chair. “At rehab this last time. I asked and she said she would try it one more time. But we both know this is our last round.”
“I guess the biggest thing for me,” Tanesha glanced at him and then back at the camera. “I didn’t sign on for a pleasure cruise or something out a teen romance novel. I signed up for a relationship – the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, the hard times and the joyful times. We relate. That’s what’s interesting to me.
“I mean people throw away relationships now because of stupid stuff like his Mom wasn’t nice to me or he doesn’t work as much as I do or I make more money or whatever. Toss him away. That kind of throw away relationship keeps people from the actual juice of love – the relating.”
Tanesha looked up. The camera angle caught her eyes in such a way that they looked almost amber. She smiled.
“He has problems,” Tanesha said. “I have problems. He’s not perfect, but I’m not either. That’s where the relating comes in. I get to really know him. He gets to really know me. That’s pretty great. So being in this relationship is my choice. Today.”
The camera faded out and the screen showed the tag line for the interview: “Miss T speaks to Diane Sawyer.”
“I see what you mean,” the host said.
Monday mid-day — 11:37 A.M. MDT Denver, CO
“Okay Sissy, step on the scale for me, please,” the school nurse said.
“Do I have to?” Sissy’s voice went up with panic. “I didn’t realize I would be weighed in and I’m not ready and…”
The nurse touched Sissy’s arm.
“You wouldn’t happen to be Sandy Delgado’s sister, would you?” the nurse asked.
“Sandy?” Sissy beamed. “She’s like my mom and my sister all rolled up in one.”
“I went to school with her,” the nurse said. “She was a couple grades behind me at Machebeuf. I see her every once in a while when I want my hair to be really fancy.”
“Does she still hang out with…”
“The girlfriends?” Without thinking, Sissy stepped on the scale. “Sure, they took Tanesha to her med school orientation day today. Did you know them too?”
“Heather and I went to the same church growing up,” the nurse moved the weights over on the scale.
“Tanesha’s dating that hunky Jeraine,” Sissy said. “We went to see him on Saturday.”
“Jeraine? He went here, to East.”
“So did Jake,” Sissy said. “We live with him. Jake Lipson.”
“He and Jeraine are like royalty here,” the nurse said. “You can get off.”
“Is that a bad thing?” Sissy asked.
“It makes you kind of a celebrity by association,” the nurse said.
“Oh, well, we live with Valerie Lipson too,” Sissy said. “She did my fingernails. Aren’t they pretty?”
“Very pretty,” the nurse said. “That’s some house you live in.”
“It’s huge,” Sissy said. “We can go a lot of days and not see anyone or see them all the time. It’s fun. I live in an apartment with Sandy and her husband Aden and their baby Rachel and my new sister Noelle and my new brother Nash and my old brother Charlie. It’s great.”
Smiling, the nurse held out a pill and a Dixie cup of water for Sissy. She took her pill.
“I’ll need to weigh you at least once a week. Can you do that?” the nurse asked.
“I can try,” Sissy said. “If I get too focused on my weight, I get sick again.”
“Let’s not focus on it that then,” the nurse said. “Let’s spend our time talking about your life at school. Deal?”
“I need to check your bandages.”
Sissy pulled up her top for the nurse to see. She touched each of them to check to see if they needed to be changed.
“It looks like you’re healing well,” the nurse said. “When does ballet practice start again?”
“As soon as I’m better,” Sissy said. “Today, we’re just doing leg exercises. Ivan, my teacher, wants me to learn how to run. I’m going out with Jake this evening so he can help me and Noelle. But I bet everyone will come. That’s usually what happens. Everyone decides to come. It’s more fun that way. We’re going to go slow so the boys will probably complain.”
“I’ll see you every day for your pill. Can I help in any other way?”
“I don’t think so,” Sissy said.
The nurse took Sissy’s hands.
“It seems like you have a really great life with lots of people who love you,” the nurse said. “Do you know that?”
“Sure,” Sissy nodded. “I still get crazy sometimes.”
“I think we’ll be good friends,” the nurse smiled.
“Okay,” Sissy said. “Bye.”
Sissy went out the door and onto her next class. When she left, the nurse picked up the phone.
“Sandy?” the nurse asked.
“How did it go, Ginny?” Sandy asked.
“You were right about weigh-ins,” Ginny the nurse said. “She doesn’t want to do it. But we got past it. I think she’s going to be fine.”
“Thanks Ginny,” Sandy said. “I really appreciate you helping Sissy like this.”
“Don’t worry,” Ginny said. “She’s a bright girl with a lot of energy. I’m happy to help. See you tomorrow?”
“You bet,” Sandy clicked off her phone. One at a time, her family was transitioning into their next phase. She smiled and went back to her accounting.
Monday afternoon — 2:37 P.M. EDT New York City
“So that’s two votes for the clip I like,” the editor said. “Two for yours.”
“Show them again so we can decide,” the host said. “It’s getting late and we need to make a decision.
“Ok, here’s your favorite clip.”
The screen shifted to an image of Jeraine and Tanesha sitting on the couch.
“And is it different? Do you still obsess on sex and women?”
“No, it’s different,” he said. “Calmer, warmer, and there’s Tanesha.”
“How is that different?”
“How is sex with Tanesha different from the press of sex with all those other women?” Jeraine asked.
“Oh no. Uh huh,” Tanesha said. “You are not talking about our sex life on national television.”
“But…” Jeraine gestured to the host as if she was forcing him to answer the question.
“You know what will happen,” Tanesha said. “Your Grannie Louise will call my Gran and have the talk. ‘Now I know you did your best with that girl,’ Grannie Louise with say. ‘But that girl leads my sweet grandson away from righteousness. Did you see how she made him talk about physical intimacy on television?‘ And it always ends with ‘There’s only so much you can do with a hellion like that.’ And they’ll cluck and crow and then I’ll have to hear about it.”
Jeraine smiled as if she was daring him. She scowled at him. He looked back at the camera.
“Let’s say that there’s a playground,” Jeraine said. “You might have been to the same playground with lots of people – some you like a lot, some you don’t know well. You might swing high or play on the jungle gym until after dark or do something scary with these other people. But you only ever remember those amazing days at the playground with your best friend. It’s the same playground, same sand, same swings, but everything is better when you and your best friend are there together. That’s what I would say.”
“That’s very sweet,” the host said.
“And, you’re right Grannie Louise, Tanesha is a hellion. She gets me into all kinds of trouble.”
The clip faded into the show’s lead in.
“Why is that your favorite?” the producer asked the host.
“It shows how much they love each other,” the host said. “How deeply they know and understand each other. Their lives are intertwined.”
“Let’s go with that one,” the producer said. “Can we send Grannie Louise some flowers or something?”
“You fell for them too?” the host asked.
The producer nodded.
“We all did,” she said.
Monday afternoon — 4:57 P.M. MDT
East High Gym
“Just one last question,” the East High basketball coach asked. “Why here? You could easily play at any school in DPS.”
“My sister’s going to East,” Charlie nodded to Sissy sitting in the stands.
“That’s your sister?” the captain of the Varsity team said.
“Sissy,” Charlie looked at the older boy. “Why?”
“Oh nothing,” the boy said.
“We live just a few blocks from here,” Charlie said. “It’s easy.”
“We haven’t had great luck with online students,” the basketball coach said. “Especially ones with drug problems.”
“Hey, I get there’s a risk. But I’ve been clean three months. I live close. And…” Charlie nodded to Jacob when he came in the gym with Nash, Noelle, and Teddy. “I’m a pretty good player.”
“You know Jake Lipson?” the basketball coach asked.
“We live with him,” Charlie said. “My sister and I live with our older sister, her husband and his kids. We all live at the Castle. I worked for Jake this summer at the construction company.”
“Good guy,” the basketball coach said. “Why are they here?”
“My sister, Sissy, is a ballerina,” Charlie said. “Her coach wants her to learn to run. Jake thought he could get the key to the field so we could practice. They’re waiting for me.”
The basketball coach looked at Charlie. Terrified he might not get on the team, Charlie gave the coach his most confident smile. The coach nodded to him and pointed to the varsity captain.
“So you have a practice schedule?” the varsity captain asked.
“We have to check with the office or whatever to see if you can play varsity,” the varsity captain said. “You’re old enough, but since you’re just a freshman in school… It’s complicated but we’ll work it out.”
“Why did you ask about Sissy?” Charlie asked.
“My girl and her friends went to see Mr. It, you know Jeraine, on Saturday,” he said. “A few of the guys went to, you know…”
“Get with the girls,” Charlie said. “I was there.”
“I saw your sister dancing.” The boy straightened up until he was a couple inches taller than Charlie. “You got a problem with that?”
Charlie shook his head.
“You think she’s prejudice?” the boy asked.
“She likes Jeraine,” Charlie said. “I think he’s a jerk, but Sissy likes him.”
“He’s famous, rich.”
“He’s our friend Tanesha’s boyfriend,” Charlie said. “Don’t you have a girl?”
The basketball captain shrugged his shoulders.
“Don’t fuck around with my sister,” Charlie said.
“Yeah, whatever,” the varsity captain said. “See you at practice.”
Charlie watched the boy walk off. He nodded to Sissy and left the gym.
“How did it go?” Sissy ran down the steps to him.
“I’m in,” Charlie beamed.
“Yea!” the kids cheered.
“Let’s celebrate with a run,” Jake said.
They followed him out of the gym.
The Denver Cereal will continue next week
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