Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal - Chapter Two Hundred and Eleven : Critical


Thursday afternoon — 3:50 p.m. MT

Before Tanesha could react, the metal door flew open. A slender, light skinned man grabbed her hair and threw her out of the stall. Her phone flew out of her hand and shattered against the tile wall. She stumbled and slammed against the sink cabinet. He caught her foot and dragged her to him. Holding her up by the shoulder, he gave her a hard back hand. She spun in place. Dazed, she grabbed the edge of the counter to steady herself. He yanked down her pants and slammed forward.

Tanesha raised her foot. He jammed into the hard heel of her calf-high black Frye boot. She pressed back in a slow practiced back kick. When he shifted back, she spun around.

Tanesha attacked. As Colin Hargreaves had taught her, she folded her finger tips in and slammed her right palm toward of his throat. She caught his chest. He fell back into the stall. She ran toward to the door. He tackled her before she got there.

Face down under him, she shimmied her body, kicked her heavy boots, and struck him anywhere she could reach. When she was able to turn over, she slammed her knee up and hit him somewhere near his groin. She pushed him away.

When he came at her again, she bent her elbow and slammed it across his face with all her might. He glanced off the metal stall and dropped to the ground. She jumped up and kicked him in the ribs as hard as she possibly could. She kept kicking until two strong hands pulled her away.

She looked up into the face of one of her Denver Track Club teammates. He was dressed in a University of Colorado Police uniform.

“We had a report that a woman was beating the bejesus out of some poor defenseless guy,” the officer chuckled. “Tanesha, whatcha got against this feeble white rapist?”

The man moaned.

“You’re not match for this girl,” the officer said to the man on the floor. He nodded to another University Police officer who cuffed the rapist on the floor. Turning to Tanesha, he asked, “You okay?”

Tanesha nodded. She felt high and a little numb from the rush of adrenaline. When she pulled up her pants, she found that the jerk had ripped the button off her favorite pants. She sneered at the rapist as he passed her on his way out of the room.

The officer and the rapist got to the doorway just as her father Rodney came in. Towering over the officer and the rapist, Rodney gave the criminal a terrifying look before seeing Tanesha. His face shifted to the sheer joy of seeing his child safe. He turned back to the rapist.

“That’s my daughter,” Rodney said to the man.

The rapist shook his head in horror and the officer pushed him out of the restroom. Unable to stop herself, Tanesha threw herself into her father’s arms. He wrapped his long arms around her. Tears streamed out of her eyes and he held her tight. The officer touched his shoulder.

“We’ll need to get her statement,” the officer said.

Holding up her pants with one hand, Tanesha tried to open her mouth. She yelped with pain and pointed to her jaw.

“Shit, girl.” The officer pointed to a growing lump on Tanesha’s jaw. “Did that asshole break your jaw?”

“We need to get her to the hospital.” Rodney slipped off his belt.

“Come on,” the officer said. “I’ll take you to emergency.”

While she threaded the belt through her pants, Rodney grabbed her book bag. He picked up the pieces of her phone and tucked them into the bag.

“That guy?” The officer pointed with this thumb out the door. “He fits the description of a guy who’s raped more than twenty women in Aurora alone.”

The officer nodded to Rodney.

“You know him?” the officer asked.

“We met up in Cañon City,” her father said.

“Know his name?”

“I do.” Rodney held his hand out to the officer. “I’m Rodney Smith. Thank you for helping my daughter.”

“Nice to meet you, sir.” The officer shook Rodney’s hand. “Come on, let’s get your girl looked at.”

With his arm around her, Rodney guided Tanesha out of the bathroom. They were walking toward stairs when Jeraine caught up with them. As usual, whispers, looks, and camera clicks followed her husband like a cloud. For once, she didn’t care. She let go of her father to hold Jeraine. She kept holding on even though she heard people taking pictures of them on their cell phones. The officer put his hand on Jeraine’s shoulder.

“We need to get her to emergency,” the officer said.

“Yes sir,” Jeraine said.

They had just stepped into the elevator when the officer snorted.

“What?” Rodney asked.

“If you’re Jeraine,” the officer said. “Then is she Misty?”

“There is no Misty,” Jeraine said.

“I’m Miss T,” Tanesha tried to say through her jaw. It came out as something like “eh mmffs T.” She snorted and the men laughed.

“You two look like a matched set,” Rodney said. “But then you always have been.”

“Ain’t that the truth?” Jeraine gave a jagged tooth smile.

“You know that song?” The officer sang, ”There’s a honey in my bed and Miss T on my mind?”

Jeraine nodded.

“Oh dawg, that song is the ultimate panty dropper. I just put it on and…”

Rodney cleared his throat and gave the officer a hard look. He blanched. When Rodney laughed, the men chuckled. Tanesha rolled her eyes at them.

“Come on, let’s get you to the ER,” the officer said.

“If you don’t mind,” Rodney said. “I’ve seen enough of the back of cop cars.”

The officer pointed to a golf cart with University Police on the side.

“It’s not the sweetest ride, but it does get across the campus fast,” he said.

“There’s definitely not enough room for us,” Rodney pointed to Jeraine and himself.

“I can’t leave her until I get her statement,” the officer said.

“We’ll go with the cop,” Jeraine said.

“I’ll follow you,” Rodney said. He hugged Tanesha.

“Thanks for calling me,” Rodney said in her ear. “It feels almost… normal.”

Tanesha nodded.

“When we’re done here, will you help me get your mom an engagement ring?” Rodney asked. “Oh my God, Yvonne! If they came for you, they’re…”

“Sandy,” Tanesha muffled out.

Unsure of what she said, Rodney looked at Tanesha then at Jeraine.

“I think she said Sandy,” Jeraine said. “Sandy’s place is like a fortress. You never noticed? Bullet proof glass front, steel door, double security locks on every door, special alarm. I guess Jake set it up that way. If Yvonne’s there, she’s safe.”

Tanesha gave a vigorous nod then grabbed her jaw.

“Do you have Sandy’s number?” Jeraine asked. “You should call to check. Women like that.”

Tanesha tapped him with the back of her hand.

“Good idea,” Rodney said. “I’ll call on the way.”

Tanesha and Jeraine walked to the University Police cruiser. Standing at the passenger door to the cruiser, Tanesha watched her father walk away. He must have felt her eyes because he turned to look at her. She raised a hand to wave. He pointed to his chest, made a heart sign with his hands and pointed to her. She touched her chest and raised her index and middle finger.

Leaning back into the passenger seat, Tanesha still felt a sense of vague unreality. This had been the weirdest, best, most intense week of her life. She’d finally started med school, thought her mom was dead, found her mom safe and sound after all these years, given a deposition to the police, and been attacked by a rapist. She watched Jeraine answer the phone then hold the phone away from his ear as Heather screamed at him.

At least some things never changed.


Thursday afternoon — 4:10 p.m. MT

“You know,” Sandy touched Yvonne’s shoulder. “You could come once a week, instead of once a month, now. I can wash and set your hair. I bet we can get that hair to grow.”

“So expensive,” Yvonne shook her head.

“Bah,” From under the hair dryer, Maresol repeated what she’d said all day. “Your man can afford it.”

The women laughed. Sandy leaned down until she was next to Yvonne’s ear.

“Rodney comes once a week,” Sandy said.

“He does?” Yvonne looked surprised.

“Haircut and shave. It’s an incentive for some of the young men on his work site. If they meet their goals, he pays for a haircut and a shave. I’ve even been able to clear up his skin. You could just come with him. Plus, I always give a family discount.”

Looking more confident, Yvonne nodded.

“Ok, you’re set,” Sandy said. Looking up, she reminded her assistant, “Yvonne needs the new conditioning step.”

Her assistant smiled.

“She’ll wash out your hair,” Sandy said. “I’m testing out a new conditioner. It takes about five minutes. You can come up here to wait if you’d like.”

Nodding, Yvonne got up and Jeraine’s mother, Dionne, took her place. Yvonne and the assistant went into the back.

“What would you like today, Mrs. Wilson?” Sandy asked.

“You do a great job with that flat iron,” Dionne said. “Will you be able to do all of our hair on Saturday?”

“I was planning on it,” Sandy said.

“Good,” Dionne said.

Sandy flipped a plastic smock over Dionne and took out her supplies. She worked in silence for a few minutes. Yvonne and the assistant laughed as they came in from the back room. Moving into the salon, Yvonne saw the flat screen television.

“That’s my Tanni!” Yvonne pointed to the screen. The women looked at the television. Sandy got the remote control from her drawer and turned the sound up. “That’s the police!”

The screen flashed to Kevin Torres, the 9-News on-scene reporter.

“Based on what we know so far, Tanesha Smith was in the bathroom at the Medical School here in Anschutz when she was attacked. Ms. Smith was able to fight off her attacker. According to Aurora PD, this man is a possible suspect in a number of rapes throughout Aurora and the metro area.”

“Oh my God,” Yvonne said.

Dionne got up to hug her friend. They watched in horrified silence.

“What is Ms. Smith’s condition?” The desk anchor worked to stretch out the story.

“We haven’t been able to confirm the details,” Kevin Torres said. “But we’ve heard, Ms. Smith has a broken jaw. We have this tape submitted by a viewer.”

The screen shifted to Jeraine running up to Tanesha while she is walking with Rodney. The swelling in her jaw was apparent as was her torn clothing.

“That must have been some fight,” the announcer said when the tape ended.

“Apparent Ms. Smith has been taking self-defense classes from a friend of the family,” Kevin Torres said.

“She knows enough to put the rapist is in critical condition at Denver Health,” the desk anchor said. “We’ll have a report shortly about his condition.”

“We’ve contacted Jeraine’s representation and they would not comment on a police matter,” Kevin Torres said. “We’ll bring you up to the minute details as soon as the police release a full statement.”

“Thank you,” the news anchor filled the screen. “As you know Tanesha Smith is the wife of R and B star, Jeraine Wilson. A crowd is already forming outside the hospital to catch a glimpse of them.”

“Jeraine Wilson…”

Sandy turned off the sound.

“Did you know?” Yvonne asked Delphie.

Delphie nodded.

“Is that why we’re here?” Yvonne asked. “Why Rodney called a while ago?”

“Did you see the men who were following us?” Dionne asked. “They were coming for you too.”

“They followed us from lunch to here,” Maresol said.

“Did you know?” Yvonne asked Sandy.

“Only when it was too late to do anything,” Sandy said. “We could only keep you safe. Jill called Tanesha and the police. Tanesha said she could handle him. Seems like she did. Jill knew she’d be all right if he didn’t surprise her.”

“What did Delphie and Jill know?” Yvonne asked.

“Tanesha and Jer went to the police station this morning before school,” Dionne said. “She gave evidence against Alvin…”

“The spider?” Yvonne put her hand on her heart. “Why would she do that?”

“She saw a picture of him last night,” Dionne said. “An old picture, one from when you were first… She remembered what he did to her, to you. She told the police everything.”

“She did?” Yvonne’s face reflected her shock and horror.

“We need to get the conditioner out of your hair,” Sandy’s assistant said.

Upset, Yvonne took a few steps in the direction of the wash bowl. At the doorway to the back room, Yvonne turned around.

“You’re saying that the spider sent a man to hurt my Tanni because she told the truth about him?” Yvonne gave Delphie a hard look. “And he sent some men to kill me.”

“Like we always thought he would,” Delphie nodded.

“You still have them?” Yvonne looked from Delphie to Maresol, ending with Dionne. “Somewhere safe?”

Dionne nodded.

“That’s why we’re going to the Castle next?” Yvonne asked.

Delphie nodded.

“And Tanni? She’s okay?” Yvonne asked.

“You can’t go; none of us can,” Delphie said. “There’s a mob of press and fans because Jeraine’s there.”

“Okay,” Yvonne nodded and walked into the backroom.

“What was that?” Sandy asked Dionne as she returned to Sandy’s chair.

“Revenge,” Dionne said.

“La venganza es un plato que se sirve frío,” Maresol said. “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Confused, Sandy shook her head. Her eyes looked from one woman to the next finally settling on Delphie.

“Don’t worry Sandy,” Delphie said. “By the end of today, no one is going to fear Aaron Alvin ever again.”

The Denver Cereal will continue next week

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