Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.


Chapter Four Hundred and Twenty-three : The Fixer

CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED and TWENTY-THREE

Monday mid-day — 1 p.m.

“Okay, I’m on my way,” Honey said to Jacob when he answered his cell phone. The background sounded like he was at a restaurant or possibly a bar. “How did it go?”

“Good,” Jacob said. “We need an insp …”

“No,” Honey said. “No, we’ve had all of the inspections necessary. They just say that to stall.”

“Yes, that’s exactly right,” Jacob said. “So you’re on your way?”

“In the car,” Honey said. “Where are you?”

“I’m having lunch with a friend from high school,” Jacob said. “Would you like to meet us?”

“Sure,” Honey said with such irritation that Jacob smiled. “Where are you?”

He told her the name of the restaurant and clicked off the phone. Honey gave an exasperated growl. She and MJ had been around and around with these planning people. Jacob said he would help, not go to lunch with one of his buddies.

“Probably one of those hockey players,” Honey said out loud with a sneer.

At the next stop light, she typed in the address into her GPS and realized the restaurant was right next to the Wellington Web building where permitting was located on its second floor.

She crossed her fingers that her favorite handicapped parking space was open and was delighted to see that it was. She went through her van and got in her lightest chair. She took the lift to the ground and wheeled her way into the restaurant. She was pleasantly surprised that the restaurant had enough space for her to easily roll in. Jacob waved her over to their table. She was almost there when she realized that Jacob was sitting with the manager of Community Planning and Development. She knew who he was because she’d called his office a few times to beg for help.

“Honey!” Jacob said. He leaned over to hug her. “Devon, this is my sister, Honey. She went to Machbeuf a few years after we did. You might remember her husband, MJ? He was a year or two ahead of us.”

“Scully?” Devon said. He stood up in greeting to Honey. “You’re getting married this weekend.”

Honey blushed bright red. Devon looked like a Colorado boy. He was handsome with the ruddy skin of spending too much time outdoors. Two of his fingers were wrapped in Band Aids and he sat down as if he had road rash on his rear.

“MJ and I were in Iraq at the same time,” Devon said. “Although, he was SF and I was a lowly grunt. My girlfriend and I are going to be at the wedding.”

“How did someone so young get in charge of planning?” Honey asked.

“Straight up nepotism,” Devon said with a laugh.

Honey smiled. She glanced at Jacob, who was grinning.

“Come, sit with us,” Jacob said.

Honey rolled her wheelchair up to the table. They were eating corn chips and were drinking iced tea.

“I ordered you some lunch,” Jacob said. “I think it’s all stuff you can eat. And these are gluten free.”

“So’s the salsa,” Devon said. “My mother’s gluten intolerant. Nothing like Crohn’s, but I’m ‘gluten aware.’”

“Thanks,” Honey said.

“How was the fitting?” Jacob asked.

“Good, but Sandy thinks that Aden can’t go on their honeymoon,” Honey said.

Jacob gave her a fixed smile.

“If he thinks that he’s going to surprise Sandy, he really should think again,” Honey said. “She’s now saying she doesn’t want to go through with the wedding.”

“I’ll talk to him,” Jacob said.

“Sandy was really upset,” Honey said.

“I’ll talk to him,” Jacob repeated.

“Good,” Honey said, with a nod.

“I’ve heard what’s been happening,” Devon said.

Honey smiled.

“You’ve been going from hospital permitting to residential permitting and back around again,” Devon said. “The problem is that permitting isn’t really set up for a project like yours. It makes sense to me that you’d go back and forth.”

“And go nowhere,” Jacob said.

The waiter came and set their plates in front of them. Jacob had fish tacos, Devon had an enchilada plate, and Honey had her favorite meal — chicken fajitas. For a moment, they were silent as they happily ate.

“How can we get out of this loop?” Honey asked.

“We have a plan,” Jacob said with a nod.

“You do need one more inspection,” Devon said. “But I’ve set the entire thing up. Both inspectors will come out. They will both make recommendations, and my guess is that you’ll leave with permits to open business.”

“Wow,” Honey said. “When will it happen?”

“I put it on the schedule for Wednesday,” Devon said. “I said it was a wedding present for a disabled veteran friend. They were happy to squeeze you in. Since you’ve already had some inspections, this should be a piece of cake.”

“Great!” Honey said. She gave him a glowing smile. “That’s wonderful. You’re wonderful.”

“Let’s see if we can get this going before we celebrate,” Devon said. “Your idea is fantastic. If we figure out how to get it open, we can open more of them. Jacob said you’re looking at building one near Craig Hospital for people who need places to stay but aren’t quite done with treatment.”

“Like Mologne House,” Honey said. “MJ stayed there when he was in Walter Reed. It’s closed now.”

“I remember that place,” Devon said. “It’s a great idea. Total hell hole.”

Honey nodded.

“If we can get all the kinks worked out, we’ll release the plans on the Internet so people can make them all over the world,” Jacob said. “First, we have to see if it works.”

“Which means you have to open,” Devon said, with a nod. “I’m sorry we’ve stood in your way.”

The topic of conversation shifted to hockey and finally came around to the wedding. Noticing the time, Devon mumbled something about his government job and he left. Honey and Jacob sat in silence for a moment.

“So?” Jacob asked.

“Whoo hooo!” Honey hooted her excitement.

“We’re almost there,” Jacob said with a smile and a nod. “Do you have to go back to work?”

“I’m taking the late shift on Jerry’s site,” Honey said. “I’m to end the shift on time and start the pack up crew. I’m excited. Nervous. I’m taking the fact that Jerry trusts me to do this as a great sign.”

“It is a very good sign,” Jacob said. “I’ll walk you out.”

Jacob paid the bill and walked Honey to her van. When Honey was on her way, Jacob walked to his truck. Honey had been so happy. It felt really great to help her where she was stuck. Maybe that would be his new role in life. He sat inside for a moment before realizing he hadn’t taken Sarah out for few days. Humming to himself, he went home to take a run through City Park with Sarah and Buster.

~~~~~~~~

Monday afternoon — 1 p.m.

“What is that?” Fin asked no one in particular. “Why is there a rodent in this house?”

He walked out into the main Castle living room. Even though it was warm out, there was a large fire in the fireplace. He stopped to warm his hands. Abi was sitting on the couch with her daughter tied onto her with a cloth sling.

“All creatures are beautiful,” Abi said from the couch to his back. “This is Maxwell. He’s a new addition to their household.”

“Dinner?” Fin asked.

“Ivy’s bunny,” Abi said. “He’s a pet, named after Max Hargreaves. You know Max right?

“The friend of the one our sister is obsessed with,” Fin said.

“Brother,” Abi said, with a nod. “Would you like to pet him? He’s very friendly.”

“Aren’t there dogs in this household?” Fin asked.

He looked over his shoulder to the small black and white rabbit. The rabbit sniffed in the air at Fin.

“That’s why we’re here,” Abi said. “Delphie wanted me to see how the dogs reacted to this bunny. She thinks the bunny could possibly be an enlightened being. She wondered if I might help.”

They heard a scramble of nails on the hard wood and Buster, the ugly dog, came into the room followed by Sarah, the yellow Labrador.

“That is a horrific animal,” Fin sniffed.

Ne Ne came into the room and sat down on the other end of the couch.

“I think he looks like you,” Abi said with a grin.

The dogs rushed to the couch to say hello to Abi. Both dogs sniffed Maxwell the bunny and Sarah gave the new arrival a welcoming lick. Watching their interaction closely, Abi raised an eyebrow in a shrug.

“See what I mean?” Delphie asked as she came into the room.

“I do see what you mean,” Abi said.

“That is the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen,” Fin said. “Why do you have it?”

“For the same reasons we keep you around,” Tanesha said as she came into the living room.

Delphie gave Tanesha a sly smile. Ne Ne grinned at Tanesha’s comment.

“Buster is a loyal friend who always has a keen sense of what’s going on around him,” Delphie said.

“Like you,” Abi said.

Maxwell the bunny stretched out his nose toward the ugly dog and Buster the ugly dog gave the bunny a lick.

“He’s just wondering whether to have the rabbit raw or cooked,” Fin said.

Abi and Tanesha openly laughed at Fin. Delphie hugged him. Abi picked up the rabbit and carried him to Fin.

“Here,” Abi said as she set the rabbit in Fin’s arms.

He blushed and flustered for a moment while Buster crawled up to the crook of his left arm and settled in.

“I…” Fin started.

“Pretty great, yes?” Delphie asked.

“Looks like dinner to me,” Fin grumbled but did not set the rabbit down.

His right hand moved slowly until it settled on the bunny. His hand lingered there for a moment before he started lightly petting the bunny. Maxwell settled in even more. Closely watching the entire thing, Tanesha laughed out loud.

“How was the fitting?” Delphie asked.

“Perfect,” Tanesha said. “The brides need a little adjusting but…”

Tanesha’s cell phone rang.

“I’m sorry, I need to get this,” Tanesha said. “This is Tanesha.”

Following Delphie’s intense look, Abi and Fin watched Tanesha as she talked on the phone.

“Excuse me?” Tanesha asked. She listened intently. “Wow. Okay. Thank you. I need to… Yes, thank you.”

Tanesha hung up the phone. Looking dazed, she sat down in an armchair. Delphie put her arm around Tanesha. Not one for subtlety, Fin scowled at Tanesha.

“Shall we leave for lunch?” Fin asked.

Tanesha looked up at him before returning to staring straight ahead.

“What is it?” Abi asked. She reached over and touched Tanesha’s arm. “Are you all right?”

“All right?” Tanesha asked. “Uh…”

Tanesha looked up at Delphie and Delphie smiled.

“She was offered a summer internship at the Inner City Medical Clinic,” Delphie said.

“Their mobile medical unit,” Tanesha said.

“Tanesha applied for when she applied to medical school,” Delphie said. “Before Jeraine came back.”

Tanesha nodded.

“They said that because I did so well in medical school, and all of my references and stuff, that I could work there this summer,” Tanesha said. “I can get a salary, but I think I’d probably volunteer, you know because Dad’s supporting me now.”

“That’s fantastic!” Abi said.

Tanesha’s head bobbed up and down but her mind was miles away.

“I think you need to take it, child,” Ne Ne said.

“But…” Tanesha said. She turned to look at Delphie. “How will Jer handle it if I don’t go on tour with him and everything? I love him.”

Delphie gave her a vague look before she shook her head.

“I’m sorry, I can’t see it,” Delphie said. “I care too much.”

“You have to live your life,” Ne Ne said. “No matter what happens.”

Tanesha gave Ne Ne an odd look.

“My dad says the same thing,” Tanesha said.

“I should hope so! He was my star pupil!” Ne Ne said with a grin.

Tanesha smiled.

“What do we think about the rabbit?” Delphie asked.

“The rabbit is interesting,” Abi said. “But the enlightened one here is that one.”

Abi pointed to Sarah, who was lying next to the fire.

“Not Buster?” Tanesha asked.

“Buster is shakes things up,” Abi said. “He’s like an earthquake — creates dramatic change everywhere he goes.”

“And the rabbit?” Delphie asked.

“The rabbit hasn’t decided who he would like to be in the household,” Ne Ne said. “He’s too new and doesn’t understand the lay of the land.”

Abi nodded.

“Why did Ivy select him?” Tanesha asked.

“She was drawn to him,” Delphie said. “He is very sweet.”

The women looked at Fin who was petting the rabbit. He scowled at them. Picking up Maxwell, he held the bunny out for them to take, but then instantly pulled him back to hold.

“Maybe we should order in,” Tanesha said with a grin.

“That’s fine with me,” Abi said. “Delphie are you joining us?”

“I’d love to!” Delphie said. “Would you like me to call?”

“Please,” Abi said.

“I’ll help,” Fin said.

“He means he wants to tell you what to do,” Tanesha said.

Laughing, Delphie walked into the kitchen for menus. Still carrying Maxwell, Fin followed close behind.

“We’re going to have to kill him to get the bunny back,” Tanesha said.

Tanesha sat down next to Abi and gestured to hold Abi’s newborn. Smiling, Abi took the baby out of the sling and gave her to Tanesha. She laid the infant on her knees. The baby was so lovely that she looked like a doll or possibly something from a book or movie. Her face was completely symmetrical. Even closed, Tanesha could tell the baby’s eyes were large and her eyelashes were long. She had a bud of a nose and dark skin like Fin and Tanesha.

“She’s very beautiful,” Tanesha said.

“Thank you,” Abi said. “She is exactly herself. I will enjoy watching her grow.”

“Are you concerned about the Queen?” Tanesha asked.

“Oh.” Abi gave a slight shake of her head. “It’s hard to comprehend, I know, but part of Fand’s brokenness stems from her children being so far away from her. She gets angry that they aren’t around but they aren’t around because she’s angry.”

Tanesha nodded.

“She’s very angry with Fin for being here,” Abi said. “She’s convinced she needs to bring the fairy queendom back to purity. But how are you going to do that?”

“Especially when she married a mortal!” Tanesha laughed.

“Don’t tell her that,” Abi said. “She made him fairy — or had me do it.”

Abi grinned. She lifted a shoulder in a shrug.

“There’s not much she can do to me or the child,” Abi said. “It’s Fin that’s vulnerable.”

“Is that why the bunny is clinging to him?” Tanesha asked.

“I’m sure,” Abi said.

Admiring the baby, they fell silent. Abi looked up at Tanesha after a moment.

“I think you should take the chances you are given,” Abi said. “You’ve worked hard.”

“So had Jer,” Tanesha said. “He really wants me to be there to share everything with him.”

“Why not go when you’re not working?” Abi asked.

“Jer’s kind of all or nothing,” Tanesha said.

“Are you?” Abi asked. Tanesha looked at her for a moment. “He can be all or nothing but if you’re not, he will adjust.”

“And if he doesn’t?” Tanesha asked.

“You’ve been down that road before,” Abi said. “Give it some thought. I know you’ll do exactly the right thing.”

Abi looked down at her child and Tanesha looked scanned Abi’s face. Abi looked absolutely in love with her child. When Fin came back in the room, Abi gave him the same look.

“I wonder if love is Abi’s power.” The thought flitted across Tanesha’s mind and disappeared almost immediately.

“I will,” Tanesha said. “Think about it, I mean.”

Abi looked up at Tanesha, nodded, and looked back at her baby.

“I must tell you,” Fin said. The women looked up at him. “I feel tremendous shame over the sheer number of rabbits I’ve eaten in my lifetime.”

“Maybe that’s why you like this one so much,” Tanesha said.

“You are what you eat!” Abi and Tanesha said together and laughed.

Fin grinned at them. For a moment, Tanesha felt like she was in their circle of love. What was she going to do — live the life she set up while she was alone or compromise and live her life with Jeraine? Guilt and overwhelm filled her with dread. She would have to deal with this, if not today, then soon.

What should she do?

Jacob arrived home around the time that their food did causing all thoughts of this dilemma to fade from her mind.

~~~~~~~~

Monday afternoon — 4:11 p.m.

“Hey,” Heather said to Jacob. “I wondered if we could talk.”

They were standing to the side while the children got their wedding clothing fitted. While Charlie and Tink were pretty straight forward, those rascals, Mack and Jabari, not to mention Jacob’s twins, Bladen and Tanner were a nightmare.

“What’s up?” Jacob said as he attempted to put a suit on one twin while the other worked to take the suit off his twin. Jacob looked at the “helpful twin,” and said, “Stop. He needs to wear this. You have one too.”

The baby’s scowl that looked so much like Jill’s that Heather laughed out loud. Jacob was able to get one suit on.

“It’s about Aden,” Heather said.

“I talked to him,” Jacob said as he started putting a suit on the other twin. “Honey told me about the surprise thing.”

“And?” Heather asked.

“He has a whole plan,” Jacob said. “He’s pretty sure he doesn’t need girlfriends help with this, at least that’s what he told me.”

“How could that be true?” Heather asked with a grin.

“Exactly,” Jacob said with a laugh.

Heather grabbed Mack and lifted him off the ground so the seamstress could finish marking his garment.

“What are you planning to do?” Heather asked.

“Me?” Jacob asked.

“Happy wife, happy life?” Heather asked. “You know how Jill’s going to freak out if Sandy and Aden aren’t there on Sunday?”

Jacob gave Heather a slight nod. He looked across the store where Jill was helping Katy with her “just like Mommy” dress. Katy’s original was too small now so they’d had to remake it. Of course, the new dress was not exactly like Jill’s which upset Katy. Jill was rocking Katy on her lap while Katy cried. Heather followed his eyes.

“All I can say is that there are two fairies living with you,” Heather nodded toward Jill and Katy.

“You think…?” Jacob asked.

“I would,” Heather said. “Now, what are you going to do so that Jill doesn’t end up like that?”

“Jill?” Jacob asked. “She wouldn’t…”

“Have you met your wife?” Heather asked. “She sure will respond like that if Sandy doesn’t get married with them. And trust me on this — at this moment, Sandy is not getting married with them.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Jacob said.

“Soon?” Heather asked.

“Tonight,” Jacob said. He jogged after Tanner who had toddled away.

“You’d better,” Heather said under her breath before turning to give Tink her absolutely honest opinion about her dress.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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