Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal - Chapter Two Hundred and Ten : Freedom?


Thursday morning — 8:45 a.m. MT

“Where’s Sam?” a young black man said as he walked into the Lipson Construction trailer. The young man’s anxious eyes scanned the ten by twenty-five foot room.

“He’s meeting with Rodney,” Pete said.

“I’m supposed to meet with them.” The young man looked Pete up and down. “Who are you?”

“I’m Pete. I started as an Assistant Site Manager last week. I’m working on transportation.”

The young man nodded. Pete went back to work.

“Aren’t you going to ask me who I am?” the young man asked.

“You’re DeShawn Jones,” Pete said without looking up.

“And how do you know that?”

“You used to sell. I used to buy,” Pete said.

“I knew you looked familiar,” DeShawn said. “You clean?”

“Have you seen me around?” Pete asked.

“I ain’t…” DeShawn cleared his throat. “I’m not in that life anymore. I did my time and… I worked here with Rodney until about six months ago. Me and another guy, Jason Payne. We were Rodney’s assistants until Jake asked that cracker…”

“Nate Zalofsky?” Pete asked.

“Know him?”

Pete nodded.

“Jake asked, man, how could we say no? Jason went to work another site and I… Well, I’ve been at home.” When Pete didn’t comment, he added, “with my kids.”

“Lucky you,” Pete smiled. “I had a few months of that myself. I’d still be there but my kids didn’t love having me beg them to play with me.”

“We had a baby,” DeShawn said.

“Now I’m jealous.”

“Seriously though,” DeShawn said. “Do you have any felonies? I can’t be around anyone with felonies.”

“No,” Pete said.

“That’s very good,” DeShawn smiled. “Rodney called me this morning; asked if I’d come into help while he’s out. Rodney… I owe him… everything. He called; I’m here. That’s that. I guess Jason’s coming back too.”

“He was here when I got in,” Pete said.

“You know the plan?”

“The three of us are supposed to take Rodney’s place,” Pete said. “Sam will be the official Site Manager, but you know how busy he is. We’re supposed to keep him updated and we’ll meet with him every Saturday to go over everything. Bambi is going to work with us too.”

DeShawn nodded.

“Jason’s out with the subcontractors,” Pete said. “I do transportation. You’re supposed to manage the meetings and the money.”

“You going to tell them that I was your dealer?”

“I already did,” Pete said. “I’m not going to lie for you or anyone else. I told Rodney when he called.”

“What did he say?”

“He said that was good, because you could use my support again.”

“Rodney, man…” Clearly moved, DeShawn shook his head. “You got to… You have to know that I’m going to need…”

“An assistant,” Pete said. “Yes, Rodney told me you get overwhelmed and disorganized. I’m going to help keep you on track until we either hire an assistant or Rodney comes back.”

“You think he’s coming back?”

“Would you?” Pete asked. “You should see him. The man is smiling – ear to ear.”

“Rodney? Smiling?”

“It’s like a piece of his soul was returned to him.”

“And his woman, she was a… working girl?”

“Not any of my business,” Pete said. “He’s happy and that’s all that matters to me. They’re getting remarried on Saturday. I’m sure you’re invited. But right now, you’re late for a meeting.”


Pete gave him a pen and a clipboard.

“They’re walking the site,” Pete said. “You’ll see them.”

DeShawn nodded.


DeShawn looked at Pete.


DeShawn spun in place and was gone. Pete smiled to himself.

Out of nowhere, he felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. He’d just met his all-time best drug dealer and felt nothing. No cravings, no deep desire to use, nothing. He only felt one hundred percent gratitude for his life, his family, this job and the sobriety which made everything all possible.

Nodding to himself, he got back to work.


Thursday morning — 10:45 a.m. MT

Chatting with Yvonne, Dionne pulled her Cadillac sedan to the stop sign at Fillmore Street and 16th Avenue.

“Are you going to be all right this afternoon?” she turned around in her seat to look at Jeraine.

“You’re talking to me?” Jeraine asked. “I’m confused because I don’t think you’ve said a word to me all morning.”

“Don’t be like that,” Yvonne said from the passenger’s seat. “We’re catching up.”

“What did I tell you son? Don’t get in the way of a woman…”

“… and her friends,” Jeraine said. “Yes, that advice serves me to this day.”

“I bet it does,” Dionne laughed.

“My Tanni has some good friends,” Yvonne laughed.

Jeraine laughed. He leaned forward to kiss his mother’s cheek. He gave Yvonne’s cheek a quick kiss for good measure.

“You’ll call if you get sick,” Dionne said.

“I’ll call,” Jeraine said. “Have fun.”

“Oh, we will,” Yvonne smiled.

Jeraine leaned back in the seat for a moment. Dionne watched him in the rearview mirror.

“Get out of my car,” Dionne said after a few minutes.

Laughing, Jeraine hopped out.

“Where do we go next?” Yvonne asked.

“We have a lot to get done!” Dionne said. “You need a dress and flowers and… You got Rodney’s credit card?”

“Tanni gave me one with her name on it,” Yvonne said. “And cash.”

“Good,” Dionne said. “I got Bumpy to agree that I should have anything I want.”

The back door to her sedan opened and Yvonne gave a startled yelp. Delphie slipped in the back followed by Maresol.

“Where are we going?” Delphie asked.

“We’re counting our funds,” Dionne said. “Ladies?”

“I have a card on Sam’s account,” Delphie said. “And Jake left a thousand or so dollars out for me. He said we might need it.”

“Pfft,” Maresol said. “I have my own card.”

Dionne and Yvonne turned to look at her.

“Which Seth pays,” Maresol laughed. They all laughed.

“What will we do with our riches?” Yvonne asked.

“We need dresses,” Delphie said. “But I was thinking…”

“What?” Yvonne asked.

“I could use some yarn,” Delphie said.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” Maresol said.

“Yvonne can’t knit anymore, Delphie,” Dionne said.

Delphie nodded to Yvonne.

“I learned to crochet with my left hand,” Yvonne said. “But it’s been the longest time since I’ve had some nice wool yarn and good friends to do knit with.”

“Maresol and I think we should re-start our knitting group,” Delphie said.

“Our children are grown,” Maresol said.

“And our men have money,” Dionne laughed.

“Would… I mean, can I…?” Yvonne’s eyes filled with tears at the idea that her friends might not want her in their knitting group. “I know you might be embarrassed to be…”

Delphie laughed.

“You’re our inspiration,” Dionne said. “We’re just waking up to the fact that we are free women…”

“Women who want to knit!” Delphie said.

“Knit?” Maresol laughed. “We’re gonna do whatever the hell we want.”

“On their dime,” Dionne laughed. “You know they wouldn’t have a red cent without us.”

“It’s true,” Maresol said.

Yvonne clapped her hands.

“Did you have lunch with Jeraine?” Maresol asked.

“No,” Yvonne said. “Dionne took me to get my hand looked at.”

“And?” Maresol asked.

“They think they can fix me. I mean, my hand,” Yvonne smiled. “But not right away, because I’m getting married and settled and stuff. I haven’t seen Rodney’s house yet or… I lost all my clothes and…”

Overwhelmed, Yvonne’s voice trailed off. Dionne reached over to squeeze her hand.

“Great,” Delphie said. “Lunch, yarn and then…”

“Wedding,” Dionne said.

“Valerie said her designer could make a dress for Yvonne,” Delphie said. “Plus, the designer brings a bunch of clothes with her. Yvonne’s so tiny. She could fit into almost anything. And Val needs a dress for the premiere of her action movie. We could play today and stop off at the Castle later…”

“And get custom fitted with designer dresses?” Maresol asked. “I’m in.”

“Me too,” Dionne said. “It’s been forever since I’ve had something really nice.”

“Me too. I’m wearing Tanni’s clothes,” Yvonne’s voice was soft and sad. She looked from one friend’s face to the next. “But… I’m free today and…”

Yvonne beamed a smile.

“Let’s just have fun,” Yvonne said.

“I was thinking the Brown Palace for lunch,” Dionne said. “How does that sound?”

“I bet Sandy could fit us in to get our hair done,” Delphie said.

“That girl is always booked,” Maresol said.

“I have to schedule a month out,” Dionne said.

“I bet she’d have time if Yvonne calls,” Delphie said.

“I bet she will,” Dionne dug in her bag for her phone.

“Ok,” Yvonne took Dionne’s phone from her. Dionne showed her how to scroll down the list and call Sandy. She chatted with Sandy for a few minutes before Yvonne looked up, “Three o’clock? Can we make three?”

The women nodded.

“We’ll be there,” Yvonne said. “Thanks!”

Sandy must have said something sweet because Yvonne sniffed and wiped her eyes before she thanked Sandy again and hung up. She stared out the front windshield for a moment before turning around.

“Lunch, yarn, hair, then dresses?” Yvonne beamed.

“And whatever the hell else we want to do!” Maresol laughed.

“You should write that down,” Delphie said to Yvonne.

Nodding, Yvonne took out her book.

“What should I put?” Yvonne asked.

“We can do whatever the hell we want,” Maresol said.

Yvonne wrote that down.


Thursday morning — 11:45 a.m. MT

“You’re going to give him the deal?” the DPD Major Crimes Captain asked. He glanced at the Deputy Chief of Operations and then back at the Federal Prosecutor.

“I don’t see how we can’t,” the Federal Prosecutor said. “He knows we’ve been trying to make a case against the Givolini family for years. If he has information that can make that case? He’s worth every penny.”

“What about the woman?” the older detective asked.

“What about her?” the Federal Prosecutor shrugged. “From what he says, she’s one of his prostitutes. I bet she’d be thrilled to move somewhere new.”


“She’s a prostitute,” the Federal Prosecutor said. “Getting the Givolini family will save lives.”

“And her life?” the younger detective asked.

“What’s one whore compared to the larger objective of ridding the country of this pestilence? She should be honored to help, gives her worthless life some meaning.”

The Deputy Chief of Operations gave the Federal Prosecutor a long hard stare.

“You’re talking about forcing this woman, against her will, to live in secret with Alvin,” the Deputy Chief of Operations said.

“What’s wrong with you?” the Federal Prosecutor sniffed. “No one gives a shit about some prostitute. No one. It’s just another woman who made bad choices. If she winds up dead in the process? Whoop de fucking do.”


“Find the whore,” the Federal Prosecutor said. “My guess is that she’ll make it worth your time. She’ll probably be so grateful, she’ll make it worth all of our time.”

The Federal Prosecutor leered.

“She’s quite attractive,” the Federal Prosecutor said. “She can’t remember a thing… uh, that’s what Alvin says.”

Disgusted, the older detective scowled at the Federal Prosecutor and left the room. His partner followed him.

“Are they going to get her?” the Federal Prosecutor asked.

“Sure,” the Detective Captain said.

“I have a tee time at the Country Club,” the Federal Prosecutor said. “You’ll let me know when we can complete this deal.”


The Major Crimes Captain watched the Federal Prosecutor leave his office.

“Keep me in the loop,” the Deputy Chief of Operations said. “Do not make a deal with out running it by me. There is too much… We get a new Chief in less than a month… and…”

The Deputy Chief nodded to the Major Crimes Captain and left his office. He waited for a moment before his men came back in.

“There is no way, no way, I’m going to get that woman,” the older detective said.

“You know who our witness is? The child in those photos?” the younger detective asked. “Tanesha Smith. You know, Rodney Smith’s daughter.”

The Rodney Smith? Rodney ‘I spent twenty-years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit’ Smith?”

“Alvin prosecuted his case,” the older detective said.

The Major Crimes Captain looked from one man to the next.

“We need a judge,” the Major Crimes Captain said.

“Judge Alberts,” the older detective said. “Tanesha Smith’s best friend is his niece.”


The detectives scrambled out of the room. Shaking his head, their Captain watched them go before picking up his phone.

“Seth?” he asked. “We’ve got a problem.”


Thursday afternoon — 3:45 p.m. MT

“Dad,” Tanesha whispered into her phone.

“Tanesha?” Rodney stood up from where he’d been bent over a glass case filled with rings.

“Where are you?” Tanesha whispered.

“’Bout five minutes from you,” Rodney said. “I wanted to get your Mom a nice engagement ring. Some fool said this was the place to go. Bambi told me to go to Cherry Creek but I wanted to pick you up so you could help. I thought we could… wait, why are you whispering?”

“There’s a guy… Dad, I think he wants to hurt me.”

“You think?” Rodney walked out of the store.

“He’s been following me since this morning,” Tanesha whispered. “He tried to grab me before my last class. I thought he just wanted to know what time it was but he was… hyped up and then…”

Tanesha stopped talking. A door squeaked and heavy footsteps clomped across the tile floor. He kicked open the metal doors.

Wham! The automatic toilet flushed.

Wham! The toilet flushed.

Wham! The toilet flushed. There was a faint mist of chlorine and water on the air.

“Hey, this is the woman’s bathroom,” a woman said. “Get the hell out of here.”

“Hey!” another woman said.

“Call campus police,” the first woman said.

“I’m leaving!” a man’s voice said. “No need to be a bitch.”

The squeaking door slammed closed.

“Asshole,” one of the women said.

“I called all my girls but no one answered. They’re working. Then Jill called,” Tanesha whispered. “She said this guy is going to rape me as a warning so I won’t testify against… Alvin guy. Jill can’t come because she’s spotting again and…”

“Where are you?” Rodney started his truck.

“Just off the breezeway in Education 2 North, women’s bathroom, right outside the café,” Tanesha whispered. “Jer’s in a cab on his way out here. He can’t drive because he had treatment today. He’s going crazy.”

“I’m on my way,” Rodney said.

“That’s the second time the guy’s come in. I keep moving stalls. He’s not going to wait much longer.”

“And campus police?”

“Jill told me to call you,” Tanesha said. “She said she’d call the police but she said they would be too late. Dad, please come.”

“I’m on my way.” Rodney turned up Colfax toward the UC Anschutz campus.

Tanesha screamed and the phone went dead.

The Denver Cereal will continue next week

Previous       Next

Support Stories by Claudia

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.