CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED and TWENTY-SIX
“For what?” Blane asked. “It sounds like you did your best. The thing that gets me is …”
They fell very silent while Blane worked to come up with the words.
“My father was a murderer?” Blane asked.
“He was,” Sam said. “He was also a lot of other things. He was one of those people that people instinctively liked without reservation. It was his biggest asset and his worst curse. He never had to pay for a drink and got a lot of breaks when he was in trouble.”
“Alcoholic but so were my other brothers, our father,” Sam said. “If you’d asked him, he would tell you that he could quit at any time.”
“Sure,” Jeraine said with a snort. “We all say that at some point.”
“Let’s see,” Sam said. “He was about your height. Black hair, blueish eyes, darkish skin — like me and Jake. He wasn’t very book smart, but I’m not sure he went to school after junior high. Didn’t need too.”
“Teacher’s liked him?”
“And my mother?” Blane asked.
“We’ll have to ask Delphie about her,” Sam said. “I don’t actually know much about her.”
“Will you take me to where they are buried?” Blane asked.
“Of course,” Sam said. “How about this Sunday?”
“Sunday! That’s the …” Heather started. Sam grinned at her. “Very funny.”
“Tomorrow morning,” Blane said.
“I’ll be here,” Sam said. “What should I tell Delphie?”
“I saw Jeraine wrap up a piece of cake for her.” Blane pointed at Jeraine and added, “Thanks.”
“What are brothers for?” Jeraine said.
Jeraine held his fist out and Blane bumped it. Blane grinned at him.
“Don’t you dare write a song about this,” Blane said.
“Too late,” Jeraine said. “One had already blossomed in my head.”
“I should get back,” Sam said. “Delphie is very upset. She’ll want to know that you’re not too mad.”
“I’m not mad at all,” Blane said. “I’ve lived day in and day out with the idea that someone gave me away. Now I know how and why. Frankly, I think I’m pretty lucky he didn’t kill me.”
Sam nodded and got up. He hugged Blane and got the cake from Jeraine.
“Tell Delphie that I love her,” Blane said at the door. “I’m glad she remembered everything.”
“Thank you,” Sam said.
He hugged Blane and left the house.
“Well?” Heather asked Blane in a low tone.
“At least now I know why I have such crappy taste in men,” Blane said. “Inherited it from my mother.”
Heather laughed. They went back to the kitchen. They hung out with Jeraine and Tanesha for a while before heading to bed on Tink’s couch. Blane insisted that Heather and Wyn take the bed and he lay down on the floor next to them.
Blane lay awake for a long time. He ran the story over and over in his head trying to find the flaw. It was straight forward and clear. Then why did he feel like something was missing? He rolled onto his side and his back instantly squealed. He rolled back on his back.
“Something’s missing,” Blane said softly.
“That awful man would never take you to a hospital,” Heather whispered back. “So, how did you get to the hospital?”
Blane chuckled. He thought that she was long asleep, but she’d been waiting for him to get it.
“I think Delphie left something out,” she said.
“Intentionally?” Blane asked.
Heather was silent for a moment.
“Intentionally?” Blane repeated. He sat up.
“Give me a second,” Heather said with a laugh. “Doing this Goddess crap doesn’t happen immediately.”
Blane smiled and lay back down.
“No,” Heather said. “I think it’s something else that she doesn’t know that she knows.”
“Celia,” Blane said.
“I think so,” Heather said.
“I’ll ask Delphie,” Blane said.
“Tomorrow morning,” Heather said.
“In four hours,” Blane said. “We have to be up to help Tink get ready for running.”
Heather groaned and lay back. Staring at the ceiling, Blane lay awake until long after Heather was asleep.
Tuesday morning — 9:12 a.m.
“You seem … quiet,” Rodney said to Tanesha.
They were getting ready to go on the air over the photograph. Over the last few months, the press had had a field day with speculations over Jeraine and his new “girlfriend”. There were articles that quoted fake interviews with Tanesha where she was “furious”, “suicidal”, “ready to leave”, and “a pathetic pushover.” Everyone who was anyone had someone say. Every reality television star. All of the silicone crowd. All of the “women’s” talk shows had whole segments on the photo.
Today was the day to set the record straight. Fin had arrived a few minutes ago and was talking to Yvonne.
Tanesha glanced at her beautiful mother and scowled at her father. She went back to messing with her hair. Rodney grabbed her hands.
“Stop that,” Rodney said.
“It looks like crap,” Tanesha said.
“I like it,” Rodney said. “It’s very you.”
“You’re right, that’s the problem,” Tanesha said glumly.
“What’s going on?” Rodney asked.
Tanesha shook her head.
“Talk to me,” Rodney ordered.
“Dad, I have to go on,” Tanesha said. Her hands went back to fussing with her hair.
“You need a clear mind to go in front of people,” Rodney said. “You look so mentally constipated that your natural radiance is blocked.”
He leaned into her.
“What’s going on?” Rodney whispered. “Let me share this burden with you.”
“I got the internship,” Tanesha whispered.
She didn’t have to explain what that meant. Rodney was able to do the relationship math to know exactly why this news was worrisome.
“I’ve buried my marriage,” Tanesha said.
“You’ve told him?” Rodney asked.
“Not ready for the gravestone,” Tanesha said with a shake of her head.
Rodney looked at Jeraine. He was laughing at something the interviewer said. He looked calm and happy. It was one of those moments where he looked every bit the star, even when Fin came to stand next to him.
Then there was his daughter. Her face was grey. She couldn’t seem to stop fidgeting with her hair. Her teeth were grinding a hole in her thick lips.
“You underestimate him,” Rodney said.
“Do I?” Tanesha asked.
“You can’t grow in his shadow,” Rodney said. “You need the warmth of your own sun to live. You know this.”
Tanesha nodded. Rodney stepped back and gave her a long look.
“This lie is festering inside you,” Rodney said. “It needs the light of day.”
“Dad!” Tanesha shook her head.
“Jeraine,” Rodney said.
Jeraine looked up. Rodney pointed his right index finger down and Jeraine walked to their side.
“Tanesha has been offered a spot in the internship she’s wanted for the last three years,” Rodney said.
“For the mobile medical unit?” Jeraine asked. His face lit up with joy. “Really?”
Tanesha gave him a grim nod.
“That’s fantastic,” Jeraine said. “When would you start?”
“I haven’t accepted or anything,” Tanesha said. Sure he was going to get mad, she backpedaled. “I mean, I don’t have to …”
“Why not?” Jeraine asked.
“Because I won’t be able to go with you,” Tanesha said between her clenched teeth.
“Eh,” Jeraine shrugged. “It’s just a tour, Miss T. If this tour is any indication, we’ll have plenty of chances to do more tours. Do you get weekends?”
“Four days on, three days off,” Tanesha nodded. “We go into neighborhoods and work until the last patient is seen.”
“Then it’s settled,” Jeraine said. “You can come some weekends — like Paris or Prague or Washington DC. We’ll come home when we can.”
“But …” Tanesha said. “They have a cat.”
“Tabitha the Tabby Cat?” Jeraine asked. “I met her this morning. Great cat.”
“You’re mom said you were allergic to cats,” Tanesha said.
“I took the shots,” Jeraine said.
“When you tour a lot, you end up sleeping places where cats have been,” Jeraine said. “After a few times of waking up all swollen, I took allergy shots. Plus Blane gave me something before I left for tour. I’m not allergic to them anymore.”
Jeraine looked at Rodney and then back at Tanesha.
“You thought I’d be mad?” Jeraine asked.
Tanesha nodded and he laughed.
“It doesn’t work if I’m the only one whose dreams are coming true,” Jeraine said. “I am your dreams just as you are mine.”
Embarrassed by the reminder of her own words, Tanesha nodded.
“There’s Cody!” Jeraine said.
He squeezed Tanesha’s shoulder and went to greet the young man. Rodney gave her a curt nod and left her side. Lost in thought, Tanesha felt a presence at her side. She looked up to see Jeraine’s mother, Dionne.
“Look what you did,” Dionne said with a nod to Jeraine.
“He’s pretty different,” Tanesha said.
“He’s magnificent,” Dionne said. “Thank you.”
Dionne kissed Tanesha’s cheek and moved away.
“Miss T?” the director asked. “We’re ready for you and your family.”
Yvonne took Tanesha’s hand. Rodney put his arm over her shoulder and the family walked out onto the soundstage.
Tuesday morning — 10:15 a.m.
Driving Heather’s Subaru, Blane pulled into the Castle parking lot to find Sam and Delphie waiting for him. Sam got in the front seat and Delphie sat behind Blane in the passenger seat. Blane scowled at Sam, and Sam shrugged. Blane nodded.
Blane got out of the car and opened the door to the car. Delphie gasped in terror and leaned back. Blane grabbed her arms and pulled her from the car. Blane hugged her tight. Delphie started to sob. Blane held on until she was able to breathe again. Without saying a word, he helped her back into the car and he got in to the driver’s seat. He started the car and they drove out of the parking lot.
“Where to?” Blane asked.
“Turn right on Colfax,” Sam said, his voice choked with emotion.
Blane looked at him.
“You’re just …” Sam sniffed.
Blane gave him a soft smile and he started down Colfax. Without asking, he stopped at Voodoo Donuts for sustenance and coffee. They drank coffee and ate buttermilk bars. By the time they’d reached the 6th Avenue, Delphie had recovered herself. She moved to the middle seat so that she could chat with Sam and Blane.
They took the I-70 far up into the mountains and turned off onto CO-91. They passed the summer bare Copper Mountain Ski resort and drove to I-24. They passed the turn off to Ski Cooper and the Colorado Trail. When they reached the edge of town, Delphie leaned forward to talk.
“We should probably prepare you,” Delphie said.
“For what?” Blane asked.
“Well …” Delphie started. She looked at Sam. “Evergreen Cemetery is an old cemetery. There are graves dating back to the 1870s.”
“My family has been in Leadville basically forever,” Sam said. “We have a family plot there. I buried your father there.”
“His entire family is there,” Delphie said. “Jake’s only been here once. The place drives him crazy because… uh, there are so many souls wandering around — Indian hunters, the ten men from the Avalanche …”
“Miners from the Homestake,” Sam said. “Hundred men died there. Only ten were buried at Evergreen Cemetery.”
“John Telfer’s there,” Delphie said.
“Killed in the Spanish-American war,” Sam said.
“Why him?” Blane asked.
“His family hermetically sealed him in a coffin with a glass top,” Delphie said. “It was open to the public until someone’s scumbag brothers vandalized the site.”
“That would be my brothers,” Sam said.
“Telfer’s always wondering around,” Delphie said. “You know how Jake won’t waste his living time on the dead?”
“Uh huh,” Blane said.
“He got that from old John Telfer,” Delphie said.
“Was it Telfer?” Sam asked. “I thought it was that Sheriff.”
“Marshall George O’Conner?” Delphie asked. “Maybe. The Marshall was killed by the deputy he was going to fire.”
“Another relative?” Blane asked Sam.
“Surprisingly, no,” Sam said with a shaking his head and a laugh.
“James Bloodworth,” Delphie said with a nod.
“Will Mr. James Bloodworth be there?” Blane asked.
“Deputy,” Delphie said. “He wasn’t fired yet. And, no, he’s not there.”
“Would you like to stop and get something to eat?” Sam asked. “Evergreen Cemetery’s just a few minutes from here.”
“We can walk,” Delphie said.
“If it’s okay with you,” Blane said. “I’d rather we just go to the cemetery and get it over with.”
“Easy enough,” Sam said.
“We don’t need to tour the town,” Delphie said. “We grew up here.”
“You could show me where you lived,” Blane said.
Both Sam and Delphie looked uncomfortable. Delphie sat back in the seat.
“Why?” Blane asked.
“It’s just …” Sam said. “Well …”
Blane let the silence lag, but Sam never picked up the thread. He was about to ask again when Delphie started talking.
“I’m sure you’re wondering how your Delphie knows all of this,” Delphie said.
“Uh …” Blane said.
“Chastity Bell used to have little events here in the cemetery,” Delphie said. “It was great fun.”
“No it wasn’t,” Sam said. His voice was angry and hard. Surprised, Blane glanced at him. “You were a tiny child dealing with all of that evil.”
“Okay, it was pretty awful,” Delphie said.
“Levi would force her to deal with all of that energy like a dancing monkey,” Sam said.
“Well, yes,” Delphie said in a low embarrassed voice. “I was just telling Blane that I used to run tours and stuff.”
“I know you’re angry, Sam,” Delphie said. “And I understand why you’re angry, I do. I even love you for it. It’s just that … it was a long time ago, and … I can really use your support. Today.”
“Oh Delphie, I’m sorry,” Sam said immediately. “I just get so angry. This place, those stories … and all of this. I’m not myself. That’s for sure.”
“I’m not either,” Delphie said. She leaned forward between the seats again. “I wanted you to know, Blane, because … I’m kind of a celebrity here.”
“She is,” Sam said with a nod. “Every time we’re here some old-timer comes up and wants to talk. I want to bash them in the face because they saw what Levi was doing and were too selfish to do anything about it.”
“It is a mystery why we don’t come here very much,” Delphie said.
Sam looked at her and they laughed.
“Why would you come up here more?” Blane asked.
“Sam owns the land where his family lived,” Delphie said. “Jake owns the Marlowe Mine.”
“The Marlowe Mine?” Blane asked. “That’s where Jake’s ancestor found the blue diamond that Jill wears, right?”
“Where he made that diamond,” Delphie said.
“Your ancestor made that blue diamond?” Blane asked. He glanced at Sam.
“Celia’s,” Sam said. “You never know what wooing a woman will make you do.”
“Does Jake know?” Blane asked.
Sam and Delphie looked at each other. Delphie laughed.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no,’” Blane laughed.
“You know that Delphie inherited from Levi,” Sam said. “The probate went through about a month ago. We were supposed to go over what she owned but we haven’t had a chance to meet with the lawyers.”
“Why has it taken so long?” Blane asked.
“The man was an ass, that’s why,” Sam said. “He put all of these weird provisions and bullshit. It took our lawyers all of this time just to sort through it all.”
Sam and Delphie fell silent.
“I appreciate you taking me up here,” Blane said. “It means a lot to me, especially now that I know it’s such a hardship for you. Makes your generosity more apparent.”
“Of course,” Sam said.
“I’d do anything for you, Blane,” Delphie said. “You know that.”
“You already have,” Blane said.
Delphie blushed and looked out the window.
“Turn there,” Delphie said.
Blane turned to the right and they entered the Evergreen Cemetery.
“Where should I go?” Blane asked.
“It’s best to walk,” Sam said. “It’s over 10,000 feet. Are you okay to walk?”
“I feel great,” Blane said.
“Let us know if you have any trouble,” Sam said. “There aren’t a lot of roads, but they do exist. I can come run back to the car and come to get you.”
“We should walk,” Delphie said. “How else will you meet all of the ghosts?”
Blane pulled the car over to the side of the road.
“Is Levi here?” Sam asked.
“Levi with his kind at the Denver Dump,” Delphie said with a sniff.
“How did that happen?” Blane asked.
“I put him in the trash,” Delphie said. “MJ took him out to the dumpster. In a bag. I didn’t even open it.”
“No, really, how did that happen?” Sam asked.
“Katy and Celia bullied me into it,” Delphie said. “But I did it. Myself. By my own free will.”
“What did you do about the gravestone?” Sam asked.
“What gravestone?” Blane asked.
“Levi had one made for himself,” Sam said. “When he was supposed to be dead but really was just being his evil self.”
“I forgot all about it,” Delphie said.
“Sounds like something we can take care of today,” Sam said.
“I don’t have my papers saying that I’m his heir,” Delphie said.
“I have them,” Sam said.
Blane and Sam got out of the car. Blane helped Delphie out of the back. When she turned around to retrieve the flowers she’d brought, Sam leaned into Blane.
“His grave is kind of a shrine,” Sam said.
“Really?” Blane asked looking disgusted.
Nodding, Sam gave Blane an equally disgusted look.
“You know I can hear you,” Delphie said.
“I know,” Sam said.
They started walking down the road in the center of the cemetery.
“Gosh, there are a lot of houses build around this … place,” Delphie said. “Don’t they know?”
“Know what?” Blane said.
There was a blast of energy that felt both frigid cold and fire-hot at the same time. Blane felt the energy right down to his soul. He stopped walking.
“That,” Sam said. “We used to call it the fire of hell.”
“What is that?” Blane asked.
“Fire of Hell,” Delphie said with a shrug.
“No, really,” Blane said. “What is it? I don’t want to go even a step forward.”
“Oh come on,” Delphie said. “It’s not the Sea of Amber.”
“Our Delphie is used to it and its effects,” Sam said.
Delphie stood two feet ahead of them. Blane’s entire body began to shake with fear. He looked at Sam, who was watching Delphie. Her face had gone completely blank. Sam’s face began even out. He was falling into the same trance.
“No,” Blane said.
He grabbed Delphie by the shoulders. She collapsed into him.
“Sam!” Blane said. Not an easy task, he lifted Delphie into his arms. “Samuel Lipson!”
Sam’s trance broke. He shook his head. He looked surprised to find himself in the cemetery.
“Blane?” Sam asked.
“We are leaving,” Blane said. “Now.”
“I can’t carry her the whole way,” Blane said.
Sam nodded. Blane set Delphie on her feet. Sam took Delphie under her arm and Blane took the other side. They dragged Delphie the short distance back to the car.
“Get in the back with her,” Blane said.
Sam ran around to the other side of the car and got in the back. Blane helped Delphie into her seat. Blane buckled her seatbelt and Sam pulled her over so that her head was on his lap. Blane got in the driver’s seat and started for home.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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