Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Denver Cereal - Chapter Two Hundred and Three : Interruption

Chapter 203

Monday night — 9:25 p.m.

Tanesha pushed open the door to the penthouse den. The room was sweltering from the computers lined up and stacked along one entire wall of the room. The stale sweet odor of stressed out men made her step back. To keep the sound down, the men wore wireless headphones with microphones on them. Jeraine and the music director were arguing. She stood in the doorway for a few minutes before venturing into the heat. Jeraine looked up at her when she touched his shoulder.

“I’m going to bed,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine raised an index finger to the music director and pulled off his headphones. The other men in the room took off their headphones and turned to look at Tanesha. Blushing at their attention, she raised a hand to wave at them.

“I’m going to bed,” she repeated. “I have an early morning.”

“Did you get what you needed done?” one of the men asked.

“We didn’t bug you did we?” the music director asked.

“No,” Tanesha shook her head. “I was able to get my studies done. Thank you for keeping the… wilder elements away. I appreciate it.”

The music director blushed and Jeraine smiled at her.

“Let’s ask Miss T,” Jeraine said. “She never lies. She’ll tell us if I’m insane.”

“You’re insane,” Tanesha smiled.

He hopped up, kissed her lips, and put his headphones on her head.

“What do you hear?” Jeraine asked.

“What?” Tanesha pushed the headphone off one ear. “I couldn’t hear you.”

“Listen to the sound and tell us what you hear,” the music director’s voice came in her ear.

Tanesha’s eyes shifted to Jeraine. He gave her an encouraging nod. She put the headphones on both ears, turned down the sound, and listened. Her eyes shifted off to Denver’s night skyline just outside the window. After a few moments, her head nodded to the beat.

“Sounds good,” Tanesha shrugged and pulled off the headphones.

“You don’t hear anything other than music?” Jeraine asked.

“Oh, sure,” Tanesha said. “There’s that scratchy sound I always complain about.”

“What did you say?” the music director asked in her ear.

Jeraine put her microphone down and clicked it on.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Tanesha said. “It’s in a lot of things now. Like last summer, my friends and I went to see this movie we were excited about… um… Bonnerville…”

“Bonnervillle Blues,” one of the other men said. Jeraine nodded to him.

“Right,” Tanesha smiled. “We ended up calling it Bonerville. This sound went all the way through it. Weird too because the music was good, the story was good, the acting was good, but we hated the movie.”

“Most women did,” the other man said.

“ut wasn’t it a chick flick?” Tanesha shrugged. “At least we thought it was. I mean, we worked out babysitters and shifted our work schedules around to get the time to see it together. Sandy had a half off coupon and Jill bought popcorn. Then the movie was… irritating. We were really disappointed.”

“You heard this sound in that movie?” the music director asked.

“I wouldn’t have said it at the time, but yeah,” Tanesha said. “I hear it a lot now and I don’t like it.”

Tanesha stared off in the distance for a moment again.

“Makes me feel bad,” Tanesha said. “Like a bad smell or…”

She took her phone out of her pocket and called Heather. She explained what was going on and put her on speaker phone. The music came over the speakers.

“What the hell? Are they making Bonerville 2?” Heather laughed. “Jeez, do we have to go?”

“Hang on,” Tanesha said. “I’m going to call Jill.”

She called Jill’s cell phone. Sandy was with Jill.

“Can you listen to this?” Tanesha asked. “Tell me if you hear something other than the music.”

“Oh God,” Jill said. “What is that?”

“It’s like nails on a chalkboard,” Sandy said. “Is that some med school hearing test?”

“Nah, just something Jeraine’s working on,” Tanesha said.

“Well tell him to stop,” Jill said. “He’s way off track because that…”

“Terrible,” Sissy’s voice came from the background. “Yuck.”

“Absolute yuck,” Heather said.

“Thank you ladies,” Jeraine said.

“Ok, I’m off to bed,” Tanesha said.

“Good luck tomorrow,” Heather and Sandy said.

“Don’t forget your headphones,” Jill said.

And they were off the phone.

“That’s what I mean,” Jeraine said. “I’m going to tuck Miss T in and we’ll figure out what to do.”

“Good night,” the men waved. Tanesha waved back. She set the headphones down. Jeraine put his arm around her and they left the room.

“Did I say the right thing?” she asked in a soft conspiratorial voice.

“You were perfect,” Jeraine said. “And that Bonnerville thing? This is the team that did the sound for it.”

“What is it?” Tanesha asked. She pulled down her covers and climbed into bed.

“We don’t know,” Jeraine said. “They can’t hear it. I think only women can hear it.”

“Why can you hear it?”

“I’ve always been really careful with my ears,” Jeraine said. “I don’t have the high pitch hearing loss most men have. I’ve never been around motors and I always wear earplugs on stage. Why do you have to remember headphones?”

“Jill gave me an iPod,” Tanesha said. “She just wants me to use her gift.”

“I just wish…”

“Shh,” Tanesha said. “Everything is really good. You did well at therapy and you like your new trainer. I did really well at school. Let’s not fill it up with regrets and sadness.”

Jeraine kissed her.

“I don’t know how long…”

“You have to come to bed at midnight to get enough sleep,” Tanesha said.

“I’ll be back then,” Jeraine said.

“Tell them they can sleep here,” Tanesha said. “I cleaned up the guest room. I have everything packed for tomorrow.”

Jeraine smiled.

“What?”

“You’re great,” Jeraine said. “You’ll wake me up when you leave? I want to walk you to the bus.”

“That would be nice,” Tanesha said.

He went around to the door and turned off the overhead light.

“Good night,” he said.

Expecting her response, he waited a moment. She was already asleep. Everything was really good right now. Smiling to himself, he closed the door.

~~~~~~~~ Tuesday early morning — 4:25 a.m.

Valerie tapped on the door to the loft.

“Jake,” Valerie whispered through the door.

She turned the handle and leaned her head into the apartment.

“Jaaaakkkkkkeeeee,” Valerie whispered.

“What,” Jacob whipped around to startle her. She gave a surprised squeak and weaved backward on the step. He grabbed her to keep her from falling down the stairs. Once she regained her footing, she swung at him for startling her. He smirked and walked in to the loft’s small kitchen. Valerie followed him.

“Tea?” he asked.

Valerie nodded. He poured water into her cup and made himself a cup of instant coffee.

“Instant? Really?” Valerie asked.

“We have babies due,” Jacob shrugged. “It’s the best I can do.”

“How’s Jill?”

“The same as she was last night,” Jacob said. “What’s up?”

“Do you hate me Jake or are you just surly?” Valerie asked.

“I’m trying not to read people’s minds uninvited,” Jacob said.

“Oh,” Valerie said. “Why?”

“Because Delphie thinks my psychic ability activates the boys’ psychic ability,” Jacob said. “We reach out to each other in the dark. Or that’s what she says. Katy and I are on strict lock down for the next month or so until the boys are big enough to be born.”

“Oh.”

“But people like you wander around expecting me to know what’s on their mind and it’s…”He scowled at her. “Frustrating.”

“All women expect men to know what’s on their minds, Jake,” Valerie said. “It’s part of being a woman. You’ve just been lucky because you always do know.”

“Jeez, what does Mike do?”

“He thinks I’m crazy,” Valerie said.

Jacob smirked.

“Very funny,” Valerie said. “Listen, the developer in Brighton called me and told me that the house is gone! He showed up to the site this morning and the house is gone! My house! Disappeared.”

“White elephant gone missing,” Jacob said. “What a shame.”

“That’s not funny,” Valerie said. “It was an expensive building and the school really needs a new home and…”

“Oh good you’re home,” Jill said as she waddled out from the bedroom. Jacob turned to hold her and for a moment, his entire world was complete. She kissed him and shifted away. “Hi Val.”

“Oh,” Valerie said. “You just got home?”

“Val’s worried because her house is missing,” Jacob said.

Jill smiled.

“Where’s my house?” Valerie asked.

“The new Marlowe School is sitting on trailer trucks on a big lot near the airport,” Jacob said.

“Oh,” Valerie smiled her big manipulative smile. Jacob smiled back. “Are you going to tell me why?”

“We’re not sure where the best place to put the new Marlowe school,” Jill said.

“What do you mean?”

“The new job will shift a large portion of the company out east for the next three or four years,” Jacob said. “We can buy land out there very inexpensively and build an estate around the school. Or we can stick it in the middle of town surrounded by buildings and restaurants.”

“An estate?”

“Like Kent school or Colorado Academy,” Jacob said. “Those schools were built when the property was inexpensive out south. The city grew to surround them. Over time, that will happen around the airport as well.”

“Well, you’re kind of making that happen,” Valerie said.

“Right,” Jacob said.

“Would people bring their kids out there?” Valerie asked.

“That’s the question,” Jacob said. “We think we might try to keep both facilities. With your donation of the building itself, we probably can. Did you donate the building?”

“Sure,” Valerie said. “Why don’t I know about this?”

“You’re on maternity leave,” Jacob said.

“So you’re the head of the Marlowe school for one week and all this happens,” Valerie said.

“Something like that,” Jacob said.

“Can the company get big enough to do both – big enough to do the work in town and work out there?” Valerie asked.

“That’s the big question,” Jacob said. “Mom did it when we worked on the airport. But I don’t know.”

“Oh. Well, okay,” Valerie got up from her seat at the counter. “Bye.”

“You should be back in bed,” Jacob said to Jill.

“Um, Jake,” Valerie said at the doorway.

Jill and Jacob looked over at her.

“Thanks for… well, you know.” She closed the door and was gone.

“Any idea what she’s thanking me for?”

“None,” Jill said.

“Let’s get back in bed.”

“You coming?”

“Mooooommmmmyyyyyy!!” Katy called from her bedroom.

“I’ll get her,” Jacob said.

Smiling at him, Jill went back to bed. In a few minutes, Jacob and Katy joined her in for their morning snuggle. It was the best part of the day.

~~~~~~~~ Tuesday morning — 11:55 a.m.

“Son?”

Asleep, Jeraine rolled over.

“Jeraine?”

He felt a hand shake him and he opened his eyes. A shard of pain flashed through his brain.

“Hi Dad,” he shaded his eyes with his hand.

“Son, you doing drugs?” Bumpy asked.

“I have to take this pill after I go to treatment,” Jeraine said.

“Hmm,” Bumpy picked up the prescription bottle Jeraine gestured to. “Migraines?”

“Head pain,” Jeraine said. “Non-narcotic, blah, blah, blah, whatever.”

He rolled over away from Bumpy’s invasive eyes.

“I’m early,” Bumpy looked at his watch. “We’re supposed to have lunch.”

“Right,” Jeraine said. “Can you shut off the light?”

Jeraine pulled the pillow over his eyes and his aching head. Bumpy flicked off the light.

“Where are those movie people? Bumpy asked.”

“They went to work out,” Jeraine said through the pillow. Bumpy grabbed the pillow and pulled it off his face. “Since we’re having lunch, they thought they’d go explore Denver a little.”

“Seth said everything’s on hold,” Bumpy said. “He’s flying to LA this morning and…”

“Right,” Jeraine said. “Seth wants to check something out for himself. He should be back tomorrow or maybe the next day; depends on what he finds. Why?”

“What are you doing tomorrow?” Bumpy asked.

“Nothing,” Jeraine said. “The movie guys have some funding meeting for their next project. Downtown. All day.”

“No brain therapy?”

“It’s two days on one day off,” Jeraine said. “I have to give my brain some time to heal. I’d have to ask Tanesha but I think all I have is a  training session Wednesday night.”

“Your woman keeps your schedule?”

“Mom keeps yours,” Jeraine said.

Bumpy made an irritated sound.

“She writes our schedule on the refrigerator,” Jeraine gestured out the door.

He felt his father leave the room. When he left, Jeraine pulled the pillow back over his head. He was almost asleep when Bumpy said,

“Says here you don’t train until six.”

Jeraine pushed the pillow off his head and tried to sit up. He groaned and fell back to the bed.

“What’s wrong with you?” Bumpy asked.

“Terrible headache,” Jeraine said.

Bumpy looked at him for a moment and disappeared again. When he came back, he lay a cool washcloth over Jeraine’s forehead and eyes. Bumpy picked up his son’s hand and began putting hard pressure on the fleshy space between Jeraine’s thumb and the index finger.

“What are you doing?” Jeraine asked.

“How’s your headache?” Bumpy asked.

“Better,” Jeraine said. “That’s weird.”

“Weird that I know something or weird that it worked?”

“Yeah,” Jeraine sat up.

Scowling, Bumpy shook his head. Jeraine laughed.

“Did you want to do something tomorrow?” Jeraine asked.

“Tomorrow?” Bumpy asked. “Right. Yes. I need to take care of something. I’d like you to come with me.”

“Okay,” Jeraine said. “Are you going to tell me what?”

“It’s old family business,” Bumpy said. “We need to make some decisions. For the family.”

“Is Mom coming? LaTonya?”

“We are the men of the family,” Bumpy said. “We need to make this decision.”

“Mom’s not going to like that,” Jeraine said.

“She told me to take you,” Bumpy said. “And LaTonya?”

Bumpy shook his head.

“Yeah,” Jeraine said. “She doesn’t give a shit about any old family stuff.”

“Do you?”

Jeraine felt the weight of his father’s eyes on him. In the past, he would have had a surly answer to that question.

“You going to tell me what’s going on? Or leave me in the dark like a child?” He repeated something Tanesha frequently said to Rodney.

“’Cuz I’ve got a lot better things to do than play child to your grown up.”

Bumpy nodded.

“Well?”

“That girl is good for you,” Bumpy said.

“What’s it going to be?”

“Tomorrow,” Bumpy said. “I’ll pick you up at six.”

“Can’t do six,” Jeraine said. “I take Miss T to the bus stop at 6:30 a.m.”

“6:30 then,” Bumpy said. “Wear jeans, boots. You’re going to get dirty. Bring a hat, gloves and…. Ah hell, I’ll bring that stuff. Your mother’s packing lunch. Might take all day.”

“I’ll cancel with the trainer.”

“Probably a good idea,” Bumpy said.

“What’s the emergency, Dad?” Jeraine asked. “I mean, you’re taking a whole day off the office? Mid week? When was the last time you did that?”

“The day you were born,” Bumpy said.

“So this is a big deal,” Jeraine said.

“This is a big deal,” Bumpy said.

“And you’re going to tell me all about it?” Jeraine asked. “No half truths? Long pointless stories to obfuscate the truth? No convenient I forgots or you wouldn’t understands?”

“Obfuscate? Where did you learn a word like that?”

Jeraine gave him a sour look.

“I’ll tell you what I know,” Bumpy nodded.

“Then I’m in,” Jeraine smiled. He shifted and the headache came back.

“You still up for lunch?” Bumpy asked.

Nodding, Jeraine got out of bed, grabbed his sunglasses, and started out of the house.

“Pull up your pants,” Bumpy said. “You’re not going to wear those glasses at lunch are you? You look like a fool.”

Chuckling to himself, Jeraine followed Bumpy out of the penthouse.

~~~~~~~~ Tuesday afternoon — 3:55 p.m.

“You’re sure about this?” The publisher looked over his reading glasses at Westword’s the managing editor. “If we’re wrong…”

“We’re not wrong,” Barton Gaston shifted forward. “He owns the duplex. The other apartments are used for the same purposes. The money all goes back to an account he opened almost twenty years ago. Expenses and profits. His taxes indicate that it’s as a professional services group. They just don’t indicate which professional services.”

“And you’re sure it’s prostitution?”

“It’s prostitution,” the managing editor said. “Barton interviewed two of the women who work in his professional services group. They even have a website.”

“And the Denver PD?” While the question was for Barton, the publisher’s eyes never left the managing editors face.

“Know all about it,” Barton’s voice raised. “They’ve had to look away all this time.”

“And the Rodney Smith angle?” The publisher said.

“It was my decision not to include it,” the managing editor said. “We don’t have proof that there’s a connection.”

“But Alvin was the prosecutor in his case.”

“Yes,” the managing editor said. “That’s correct.”

“Do you believe they’re connected?” the publisher asked.

“They’re connected!” Barton’s intensity caused the publisher to look at him. Intimidated by the look, Barton settled back in his chair.

“The story is strong enough without adding that detail,” the managing editor said.

“Leave a bone for the Denver Post?”

“Why force a good man to face something awful?” the managing editor shrugged. “He only wants to live what’s left of his life in peace.”

The publisher blinked.

“You know me,” the managing editor said.

“I do know you, that’s why I’m asking,” the publisher said. “You’re always more than happy to slit an artery or two.”

The managing editor nodded.

“Then what?” the publisher asked.

“You remember that we ran a couple of stories about Rodney before and after he got out?”

“I remember.”

“One thing he said was that all he wanted was a chance to get Yvonne back and no matter where she’d been or what she’d done, he’d take her back with open arms,” the managing editor said. “There was something about the way he said, even on the tape, I…”

“He had like this light that came from inside him,” Barton nodded. “I remember that. She’s his real deal.”

“If we say that Alvin prosecuted Rodney to get Yvonne, we…,” the managing editor said.

“It will come out,” the publisher interrupted.

“Maybe so,” the managing editor said. “We can run with it then. In the meantime, Barton can work through Rodney’s case. Is there any evidence that what we suspect is true? And after Rodney and Yvonne…”

“You old softy,” the publisher smiled. “You want them to get back together.”

The managing editor nodded.

“Run it,” the publisher said. “I’ll call the lawyers. You going to let his campaign know?”

“After it’s on the trucks,” the managing editor said.

“After it’s printed,” the publisher said.

“Tonight then,” the managing editor said.

“Tomorrow morning is fine,” the publisher said. “We don’t owe them anything.”

The managing editor nodded.

“It’s going to be an interesting week,” the publisher said.

“It always is,” she said and she left the room. Barton hopped out of his chair and jogged after her.

The Denver Cereal will continue next week

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