CHAPTER TWO HUNDRED and SEVEN
Wednesday afternoon — 4:47 p.m. P.T./ 5:47 p.m. MT
Ava was sitting on the couch in the living area just inside the sliding windows. Seth held out a hand to her. She looked at his hand for a moment, then took it. He led her back to their bedroom.
“I don’t know when Lizzie will be home from therapy,” Seth said. “They usually get dinner, but I know Schmidty wants to know what the producers decided. They should be here any minute.”
She took a seat on the bed and he sat down next to her. When he turned, she got up and sat in one of the chairs at the small table near the windows.
“Do you mind?” Ava asked. “I don’t want to talk about sex and my Dad and… whatever… there where we…”
Seth got up and went to sit across from her.
“I’m not sure where to start,” Seth said.
“Was my father… I mean…” Ava said.
“Your father owns rentals around town, mostly in that neighborhood, the Mayfair. Have you been there?”
Ava shook her head.
“They were built by the Air Force for housing near the end of World War II,” Seth said. “They… oh whatever, last I knew about it he owns three or four in that neighborhood.”
“And the prostitutes?”
“How… I mean…”
Seth sighed. She looked up at him. She reached out her hand and he took it.
“I don’t know what you want to know,” Seth said. “I don’t know if I have the answers you’re looking for.”
“I want to know what you know.”
“What I know… okay,” Seth said. “When I met your father, he was a young prosecutor hoping to become a DA. He wasn’t big or tough or… I’d been touring, writing music, making money… I’d already been to war and back. And Mitch was alive.”
Feeling her eyes on his face, he glanced at her.
“I always had the sense that your father was going places,” Seth said. “And that he didn’t mind doing what had to be done to get there.”
“You didn’t like him,” Ava said.
“I wish you’d met Mitch,” Seth said. “From the moment I met Mitch, he was my best friend. There I was, this weird kid that had lived on my own in New York City since the time I was ten. I bought my own clothes, cars, whatever - and I did what I wanted to do. Until Mitch got his driver’s license, I had a driver. And Mitch was my friend.”
“Oh, I see what you’re saying,” Ava said. “You had all this life experience, money, fame, went to Vietnam, and were best friends with the super popular Mitch. Even though my Dad was just starting out, he acted like he was something special.”
“I can see that,” Ava said.
“He worked his way up at the DA’s office while Mitch and I were working our way into becoming detectives,” Seth said. “Then we’d see him here or there. This case, that case.”
“You didn’t like him.”
“I didn’t think about him,” Seth said. “Think about it. How many prosecutors can you identify by name?”
“Two? Maybe three?” Ava shrugged.
“That’s what I mean,” Seth said. “He was just there. We were just there. The first time I really noticed your Dad was… and maybe this is what you want to know… I don’t know.”
“You know Tanesha right?” Seth asked.
“Her mother took a job as a secretary for the District Attorney,” Seth said. “The first black District Attorney in Denver. He was appointed in 1983. He hired Yvonne as his secretary. I think that’s where your Dad met her.”
Thinking, Seth fell silent. He nodded to himself, and then looked up at her.
“Yvonne is a tremendous human being,” Seth said. “Gorgeous, more beautiful than any model or actress, any I’ve seen at least. She is also kind and has a type of smarts – not book smarts, a type of people smarts. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like her.”
Seth smiled at his memory.
“Mitch loved her completely,” he continued. “Not a sexual kind of love, but a kind of Mother Mary love. He thought she was an angel. Yvonne was married to Rodney and absolutely crazy about him. She could have been anything she wanted to be. Anything. All Yvonne wanted to be was Rodney’s wife and the mother of his children.”
“And my father?”
“Your father loves Yvonne,” Seth said. “I believe that’s true. I don’t know if it was love at first sight or… He worships her. He wasn’t married at the time. He told me once that he begged her to leave Rodney, but she just laughed. She thought he was joking. She couldn’t imagine what he was saying was true and he… wanted her.
“Around the time Rodney was charged, she tried to kill herself.”
“She couldn’t imagine living without Rodney; she didn’t want to,” Seth said. “She cut a tendon in her hand and… couldn’t be secretary anymore. After Rodney was in prison, she and Tanesha lived with her mom, but that didn’t work out. Her mom kicked her out and your father was there.”
Seth fell silent for such a long time that Ava was about to ask him something when he sighed.
“I think your father thought that with Rodney out of the picture, she would marry him,” Seth said. “But… Yvonne loves Rodney. She would cross every day off the calendar to count down until Rodney was home. That’s hard on a man, especially an important man, who wants… to be her world.
“Now, I’m not covering anything up here,” Seth said. “The truth is that I don’t know what happened. Something happened and Mitch and I were called out to one of those crappy motels on Colfax in the middle of the night. Tanesha was under the table, hysterical, and Yvonne… Anyway, they went to Denver Health – Yvonne and Tanesha. The next morning Yvonne was gone and Tanesha was still there. Bumpy talked Yvonne’s mother into raising Tanesha.
“The next time I saw Yvonne, vice had picked her up for solicitation,” Seth said. “She was strung out, cocaine I think, and working somewhere downtown.”
Seth stopped to look at Ava. She nodded.
“Why does that make sense to you?”
“Because my father put her on a pedestal and she wouldn’t have him,” Ava said. “He’d have to knock her down to truly dominate her, to own her.”
Not sure what to say, Seth gave a slight nod.
“If my father loved her so much, why did you think he’d kill her?” Ava asked.
“He’s fixated on Yvonne,” Seth said. “He’s told everyone that if anyone gets in the way of this… situation he will kill her. He will kill her rather than let her go. We - me, Bumpy, Mitch - we just tried to make things easier for Yvonne; that’s the best we could do. It feels horrible, awful, I tried to buy her once but… your father won’t let her go.”
“Westword says that he saw her every Saturday at eight in the morning,” Ava said.
“He told us he was playing golf.” Ava snorted. “But… But why not set her up as his mistress? He owns all those apartments. He could see her when he wants and…”
Her voice tapered off.
“Yvonne doesn’t love him,” Seth said. “She never will. Yvonne loves Rodney. Until her light is extinguished from this world, she will only love Rodney. She has sex with men for money because your father told her that she was helping Rodney get better treatment in prison. She’s trying to make sure Rodney is well cared for.”
“She doesn’t know that Rodney’s out,” Seth said. “And of course, he’d never be out if your father had any thing to do with it. He needed Rodney in jail to keep Yvonne doing his bidding. You know he blocked every petition to have the DNA in the case run.”
“How did it finally happen?” Ava asked.
“Rodney is an amazing philosopher. He started a dialog with a music artists about five years into his sentence,” Seth said. “They raised money for him and got the Innocence Project to take his case. An anonymous donor paid for the DNA testing.”
“But Yvonne doesn’t know Rodney is out,” Ava said.
“When whatever happened, Yvonne damaged her brain,” Seth said. “She can only remember what she writes down. So he may have told her, then kept her preoccupied for an hour and a half. She’d never remember.”
“Why haven’t Denver Police…?”
“I’m going to tell you something that you already know,” Seth said. “All over the world, at every level of society, there are men with… appetites. These men find each other. It’s just a fact. They form alliances in order to develop communities to help each other fill their appetites. Each member is obsessed with some perversion so every interaction is a transaction, a give-and-take designed to ensure that every man gets what he craves. Some crave money. Some crave sex with girls or boys or animals or whatever else you can imagine. Most men crave power.
“Yvonne is the total focus of your father’s obsession. And his circle is willing to help him satisfy his obsession because that’s the very currency they trade in, because he’s done the same for them day in and day out for decades.”
“Who are these people?” Ava asked. “They sounds so… creepy.”
“Money men, not just business men, but investors, CEOs, bank owners, men who control or can reach out to control almost all the jobs in this city; that’s not to mention the cops, and prosecutors and defense attorneys and judges who can reach out with all the force of the law and change lives.”
Ava face looked like she was digesting a bitter pill. She shook her head.
“What do you… do about it?” she asked.
“All we can do is try to make things a little better. Sometimes we’re able to step in and make it right. And sometimes all we can do is ease the suffering around the edges a little. That’s what everyone tries to do with Yvonne – ease her suffering on the hopes that one day, she will be free. But I’ll tell you this Ava, he will kill her before she’s taken from him. And his friends facilitate the transaction.”
“Do you think he… killed…?” Ava’s eyes filled with despair.
“His circle includes some… shady elements,” Seth said. “They’ve kept all this business quiet and clean. I doubt most of the girls knew they worked for him.”
“Yvonne lives in the four-plex on Fourteenth,” Seth said. “He visits Yvonne there. They would have known about him.”
“And these shady elements?” Ava asked.
“I don’t know about that,” Seth shook his head. “I could guess but… I honestly don’t know. Like I said, he is a part of a club that I know exists but have never been a member.”
Ava’s chest seemed to cave. Her shoulders folded forward and her head hung down. Assuming she was grief-stricken, Seth reached out to touch her face. When she looked up at him, she looked furious. Assuming she was mad with him, he leaned back. She shook her head and looked out the window at the ocean.
“When I was hanging there… in that place… and that creature… and Bonita… and your song and…” Ava’s voice held her deep grief. “I was able to shut my eyes, to look away, but this?”
Ava shook her head.
“I’ve stayed awake at night and wondered why I was able to withstand that creature? Why was its essence was so familiar to me? What’s wrong with me that I could…hold out so easily when most people died?” She glared at Seth. “And now I know. My father might not be that creature, he might not have one living inside him like Saint Jude, but he is of the same ilk.”
She crossed her arms across her chest.
“He used his circle to get me my lab,” Ava said. “Didn’t he?”
“And my sister? Her spot at the DA?”
“You’ve earned your lab now,” Seth said. “No one‘s going to take it away from you. When you got there, I think everyone thought you would just be there for a year or so before you moved up the chain. But you’re still there. You’re still doing great work. You belong there.”
Ava gave him a partial smile.
“You know what I think,” Seth said.
“I think we should go for a swim,” Seth said. “Shake off the parental blues, get dressed go out, dance until we drop, make love until dawn and do it all over again tomorrow.”
“I thought you had to work tomorrow,” Ava said.
“You can sleep while I work,” Seth said.
“You don’t think I should fly back and facilitate this parental crisis?”
“Nah,” Seth said. “Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Your father made his deals and took his chances a long, long time ago; he’s going to get his own consequences. There’s nothing we can do now.”
“Say a prayer that Yvonne makes it through this day,” Seth said. “Because if she survives today? She’s going to be fine. Rodney’s love for her is as strong as hers for him. He’ll find her and they will work out whatever need to be worked out. If she survives today…”
Ava closed her eyes.
“What are you doing?”
“Praying for Yvonne.”
“Oh,” Seth closed his eyes to say a prayer for Yvonne. His phone rang. “Do you mind? It’s Bumpy.”
Ava shook her head. Seth answered his phone.
“You heard this junk?” Bumpy asked.
“Is he blaming the whole mess on me?” Seth asked.
“How’d you know?” Bumpy laughed.
“Have you seen Yvonne?” Seth asked.
“I’ve been out at Dearfield,” Bumpy said. “We’re just coming into town now. But I just talked to Dionne. She hasn’t heard boo from Yvonne.”
“That’s not good,” Seth said.
“How’s Ava?” Bumpy asked.
“Like you’d expect,” Seth said.
“Poor girl,” Bumpy said. “How can two selfish stupid people have such a wonderful daughter?”
“Yeah, LaTonya’s pretty great,” Seth said.
Bumpy laughed and hung up the phone.
“Any word?” Ava asked.
Seth shook his head.
“You really think it’s okay to just go on with our day?” Ava asked.
“I think we should,” Seth said. “There’s no way to know what’s going to be needed from us in the future. We need to use the time we have to gather our strength. People we love are going to need us.”
Before he could say another word, Ava hopped up, shucked her clothing, and ran out the sliding door to the beach. Chuckling to himself, he followed her.
Wednesday afternoon — 6:47 p.m. MT
“Thanks for helping, Pete,” Tanesha said. “Sandy, you’re sure…”
Standing on the sidewalk outside Sandy’s studio, they were getting ready to start searching on foot. Unable to be with them, Jill was running the search operation from her bed. Heather held her phone out so they could hear her over the speaker phone.
“I’m sure,” Sandy said. “Plus, Charlie and his friend Tink think they know of a few places. I’m going with them. Mike and Pete are going downtown to check the waterways. They’re on bikes so they should be able to cover a lot of ground. Blane’s running the parks?”
“With Mack,” Heather said. “He’s running City Park and Cheesman. He checked the rest on the way home today.”
“Good,” Sandy said.
“You called the police?” Heather had asked Sandy to use her connections to find out what they knew.
“I called a friend of my Dad’s,” Sandy said. “He said they haven’t found Yvonne, but they’re looking for her and the pimp. Thanks to Heather, they found them on the store video. They were together just a few minutes before the building blew up. The weird thing is that she met Delphie there. The clerk remembers Delphie and Yvonne chatting like old friends.”
“Mom and Delphie are friends from way back. Knitting circle or something like that,” Tanesha said. “Where’s Delphie? Maybe she knows something.”
“That’s another weird thing,” Jill said over the cell phone. “No one can find her. Sam thinks she’s teaching one of those psychic immersion things, at least that’s what’s on the house schedule. He’s going to the store now.”
“Aden’s heading out with Nash, Teddy, and Jake,” Sandy said. “They’re meeting Rodney and a few guys. They’re going to split up to check Sand Creek, in case…”
“In case, she’s out there… all alone… dead.” Tanesha’s face was so grim that Sandy instinctively hugged her.
“Sandy, call me every half hour. We’ll leave the line open with Tanesha,” Jill said. “I have a map. Sissy and Noelle are going to help keep track. I’ll let everyone know what’s going happening.”
“Thanks everybody,” Tanesha said.
“You’d do it for us,” Sandy said.
“You’ve done it for me,” Pete hugged Tanesha. “Thanks.”
“Don’t give up,” Jill said. “She’s out there. I know it!”
With that, they split up and walked to their cars.
“You okay?” Heather asked.
“No,” Tanesha said. “I just keep seeing her… cold… alone… dead.”
“Do you think it’s a memory?” heather asked.
“Oh, I never thought of that,” Tanesha pulled her seat belt on.
“You’re not a psychic.”
“That I am not,” Tanesha said. “I hope you’re right.”
“Let’s go find my mom,” Tanesha said.
“That’s the spirit.” Forgotten on the phone, Jill’s voice made them laugh.
Heather started the Subaru and they went to South Broadway.
Wednesday afternoon — 6:47 p.m. MT
“You’re sure?” Bumpy asked as he pulled into his garage.
“Yeah, Miss T’s dad’s letting us borrow one of his trucks until we’re done with the house,” Jeraine said. “I can pick it up there.”
“You don’t want me to drop you off?” Bumpy asked.
“It’s only a few blocks,” Jeraine said. “Plus, Mom sounded really upset. You should take care of your woman.”
Bumpy laughed. Jeraine got out of the truck and went around to hug his father. They stood together for a moment. Embarrassed by his own strong emotions, Bumpy let go of Jeraine, pat him on the shoulder, and walked off toward the house.
Smiling to himself, Jeraine took off jogging toward his new home. His mind drifted to what he would make his tired, med student wife for dinner. Since the movie people were gone, he contemplated ordering in so they could eat in bed. He’d almost made up his mind when he reached the almost yellow house. Slowing, he saw an odd sight.
There was a woman standing in his front yard picking and eating plums.
A big man stood on the sidewalk pacing back and forth like a toy soldier guarding the broken front gate. As he approached, the man snarled at him like a junk yard Doberman. Jeraine came to a halt.
“Whatcha you all doin’?” Jeraine asked. He wiped his hands on his filthy jeans and then scowled at how much more dirty they were.
“He says.” The man spoke as if he was talking to himself. “He says, Get rid of her. I say, What? He says, You heard me, get rid of her. And then boom”
The Denver Cereal will continue next week
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