Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal - Chapter Two Hundred and Twenty-Nine : Vision


Tuesday morning — 10:05 a.m.

Jacob shook his head when Valerie closed the door. She only did that because she knew it bugged him. He didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of seeing him get up to open it, so he waited a few minutes. This gave him a little time to obsess on his deepest fear – the Marlowe boys would kill Jill.

He shook his head. No one seemed to know. When he asked Jill, she just smiled at him and told him she wasn’t Celia. Delphie was as wound up as he was about the whole thing. She was no help.

He leaned forward to get up and…

He had the sense of falling out of his chair. He felt the carpet greet him before his body disappeared and he was a soul walking.

He was standing at the door of what looked like a bar. He pushed the door open and was assaulted by the stale odor of old beer, fried food, and warm bodies. The room was full of laughing drunks sitting at tables and a long bar which backed up against the right side. A woman near the back pushed a button on the jukebox and Peggy Lee’s “Hey Big Spender” came on the jukebox. The woman turned around.

Jacob took a step back. She was the secretary that had made his life hell. She winked at him and went to sit down with one of the old guys he’d kicked off the Lipson Construction board. Shaking his head, he stepped into the crowded room.

“Are you looking for me?”

A woman stood at a table near the center of the room. She looked like a comic book gypsy. Her skin was dark and her accent was rough. Her excessive makeup was topped off by a fake beauty mark near the corner of her mouth. When she gave him a bright red-lipped smile, the weight her false eye lashes made her eyes thin slits. She wore bright blue silk scarf in a turban on her head, gold rings every finger, and a sheer bright orange skirt. With a jangle of at least a hundred gold bangle bracelets, she gestured to the small table in front of her where a Tarot deck was spread. He smiled and sat down across from her.

“Hi Mom,” Jacob said.

“I am not your mother,” the gypsy said. “I am Fifika, gypsy enchantress.”

“Nice to see you too, Mom,” Jacob said.

“Can’t you just play along?” Celia waved her arm over the cards again.

“Sure,” Jacob said. “Tell me why I am here, Fif… What was it?”

“I am Fifika,” Celia jangled her bracelets as she raised her arm over her head.

“Fifka,” Jacob said. “The hamster’s name? Seriously.”

Celia gave him a stern look.

“Fine,” Jacob said. “Why am I here?”

“You have a question,” Celia continued in her gypsy accent.

“I do?” Jacob asked.

Celia gave him a frustrated look that was straight out of Valerie’s play book.

“I’m in a new place, M… uh… Fifika,” Jacob said. “How ‘bout you remind me? Can I have a beer while I’m here?”

“No, you can’t drink beer in visions!” Celia said.

“I wonder why not,” Jacob said. “Now that’s a good question for Fifika.”

Celia scowled at him.

“Why am I here, Mom?” Jacob asked. “I have a company to run and…”

“You also have a few questions?” Celia asked.

“Remind me,” Jacob said.

“You were wondering about the babies?” Celia asked.

“Yeah, that is weird,” Jacob nodded. “Why aren’t they killing Jill like I almost killed you? I adored you; loved you always; but without Delphie’s help you would have died in childbirth like all the women who’ve had Marlowe males before you. You and me, we’re the only ones who’ve survived.”

“An excellent question,” Celia said in her Fifika accent. She tried to shuffle the deck of Tarot cards but wasn’t able to. “Why won’t you let me shuffle?”

“Because I never get much out of those cards,” Jacob said. “Plus, you know the answer. Just tell me; no props.”

“You’ve become very impatient,” Celia said.

“I have this feeling, Mom,” Jacob said. “It feel like everything is teetering on the top of an apex. If I change the balance in any direction everything will crash.”

Celia scowled and her comic book gypsy face folded into itself with only her nose sticking out. If Jacob hadn’t been so upset, he would have laughed out loud.

“I keep running from thing to thing, but I… “ Jacob leaned forward. “I don’t have any idea what the problem is or how everything got to be on this mountain. If I don’t keep running, everything will fall apart. It’s not logical. Everything is really fine, more than fine. It’s just…”

“That’s why you’re having this vision,” Celia said. “To deal with your uncertainty.”

“Can’t you just tell me?” Jacob said.

“I don’t know everything,” Celia said. “I can tell you about your boys, though.”

“Okay,” Jacob said.

The jukebox started to play “Hey Big Spender” again and Jacob groaned. Celia laughed.

“The boys?” Jacob asked.

“Your vision, my darling boy. If you don’t like the song, change it.”

“How?” Jacob asked.

“I remember a time when you felt like you could do anything in the world,” Celia said. “How did you get so… bound up?”

“Everything I do now affects other people,” Jacob said. “If I turn that song off, that horrible woman will be upset. If I change you back to your regular self, you’ll be pissed. If I…”

He shook his head.

“It’s like ties on my hands,” he shook his head. “Like I’m the puppet master. If I move too far this way, bam, everything falls apart.”

“You don’t want to lose everything,” Celia said.

“I don’t want to lose anything,” Jacob said. “My life is… perfect and…”

“Very hard,” Celia reached out and stroked his cheek with her red nailed gypsy hand. “I do know something about this.”

Jacob looked at her.

“You created all of this – Jill, the company, your life, your health – because it was what was good for you. Every choice you made, you made it based on what was best for you.”

“I can’t live that kind of selfish life now,” Jacob said. “I have Jill and…”

Celia tipped her head to the side. Jacob was struck at how odd it was to see his mother’s love and compassion on Fifika the gypsy’s face.

“It’s better for you to bear this burden, to feel so uncomfortable yourself, so that you don’t lose everything,” Celia gave him a small smile. “Is that right?”

Jacob nodded.

“Remember when we did the ice crystal thing?” Celia asked. “It seems kind of silly right now but…”

“Where Val and I loved the water and hated it?” Jacob nodded. “Val’s love was gorgeous and mine… see that’s what I mean! I have to be really careful because I can’t love very well.”

“She’d already met Mike,” Celia said. “She was in love for the first time.”

“Oh,” Jacob said.

“Hey Big Spender” started up again on the jukebox and he looked over to see who was causing the racket. The evil secretary gave him a little wave and went back to sit back down.

“Turn off the music,” Celia said.

“She’s enjoying it,” Jacob said.

“You don’t even like her!” Celia said. “Good lord.”

“I don’t like her, but I don’t want any trouble with her either,” Jacob said. “Jill was really upset when that happened and she has the boys now and…”

The volume of the music rose. Jacob’s ears began to ring. He dropped his head on the table.

“Your vision,” Celia said. “You’re in control here.”

He groaned.

“You really never meditate, do you?” Celia asked.

“I have a few other things to do,” Jacob snarled.

“If you meditated, you would know that you created this room,” Celia said. “Do you trust me?”

Jacob sat up to look at her. He nodded.

“Turn off the music,” Celia said.

Jacob raised his hand to destroy the jukebox.

“Don’t do that,” Celia said.

“You just said to turn off the music,” Jacob said.

“With your mind, Jacob Marlowe. Do it with your mind.”

Jacob rolled his eyes and lowered his arm.

“Think,” Celia said. “Music off.”

“Music off,” Jacob said.

The jukebox turned off. The evil secretary got up from her seat and smiled at him. She walked to the jukebox.

“Go away,” Jacob said.

She disappeared.

“You’re spending so much energy trying to hold everything together that you’ve become stunted,” Celia said. “You’re not growing. The business isn’t growing. Your love with Jill isn’t expanding. You’re not living.”


“Do you remember what happened when you hated the water?” Celia asked.

Jacob nodded.

“You’re too powerful of a being to be so uncomfortable,” Celia said.

“I’m uncomfortable because everything is about to change!”

“You’re uncomfortable because you’ve told yourself that things cannot change or you will lose everything,” Celia said. “Katy is not a tiny fatherless girl anymore. Jill will have your twins and they will be wonderful. You can leave Lipson Construction in less than a year. Valerie is growing. Your Dad will continue to learn and grow.”

“Why won’t you tell me what’s happening to Jill and the boys?” Jacob’s voice rose with desperation.

“Because you already know,” Celia said. “You also know what’s wrong. You just won’t let yourself know. You’d rather stay in this bar, listening to that horrible song, than actually risk taking a step in your life.”

“But I’ll loose Jill?”

“What would she say if you told her that?” Celia asked.

“She would…” Jacob looked up to see Jill walk into the room. It wasn’t the Jill he was married to. It was when Jill was pregnant with Katy. Her long, dark hair was falling out of a braid down her back. She looked exhausted and so gorgeous. He smiled at her. She gave him a secret smile and went to take an order at one of the tables.

“Why don’t the boys hurt Jill?” Celia said in a low voice.

“Because they have each other,” Jacob turned to look at her. “They’re not alone.”

“Marlowe men are desperately lonely,” Celia said. “Even at birth, they know they’re different, unusual. Most of them spend their lives alone, in mines, and other crevices in the world. You don’t meditate because the silence feels lonely.”

Jacob felt her words echo through his being. He nodded and looked up to see if Jill was still waiting tables. She looked up from a table near the back and smiled at him.

“You know, she’s never been angry with me for having Katy when she was so poor and…” Jacob smiled at Jill.

“Why do you think that is?” Celia asked.

Jacob shrugged.

“Why don’t you ask her?” Celia asked.

His mother turned around and waved Jill over. Jill gave him a sweet smile and turned to Celia.

“What can I bring you?” Jill asked.

“Why haven’t you been angry with my son for not taking care of you when you were pregnant with Katy?” Celia asked. “And letting you live hand to mouth when she was a baby?”

“Gosh so many reasons,” Jill looked at Jacob and blushed. “If I’d known that Katy wasn’t stupid Trevor’s, I wouldn’t have stayed with him. I would have left and lived with Meg or…”

Jill gestured to Jacob.

“If Jake had known Katy was his baby girl, he would have moved mountains to find us,” Jill nodded. “Right?”

Jacob nodded.

“And why aren’t you mad?” Celia asked.

“Because that’s just life,” Jill said. “I needed to go through everything that happened so I would be ready for life with Jake. If Trevor hadn’t left me and all of everything horrible, I couldn’t have what I have now.”

Jill nodded and moved away from the table.

“By trying to hold everything together, you’re…” Celia started.

“Being very selfish,” Jacob said. “Blocking other people from learning what they need to learn.”

“From growing,” Celia interrupted. “You’re stopping everyone from growing and by being uncomfortable you’re emitting waves of cosmic junk into everyone and everything around you. You’re powerful enough to lock everyone in that goo.”

“Like what?”

“Honey and MJ’s apartment project?” Celia raised her artificially arched gypsy eyebrows at Jacob. “Tanesha’s house? You didn’t finish the basement. Did you?”

“No, but they did move in,” Jacob said. “They say it’s perfect.”

“Their perfect and your perfect are not the same things, are they?” Celia asked. “How much needs to be done on Tanesha’s yellow house?”

“About an hour,” Jacob said. “More or less.”

“And that poor apartment building has been stuck in inspection for…”

“Three months,” Jacob said.

Celia nodded.

“You mean I’m causing this?” Jacob asked.

“You’re not making all the chaos happen,” Celia said. “No one can do that, but you’re not making it better either.”

Jacob looked up to watch Jill move around the room with a tray full of food.

“She’s very beautiful,” Jacob said. “And she’s not moving now either. It’s driving her crazy. She can’t even get her hair done or see Tanesha’s house or…”

Celia put her hand on his arm and he looked at her.

“Let it go,” Celia said. “Stop holding on so tightly.”

“I’ll lose everything,” he said in a low tone.

“Or gain everything,” she smiled at him. “What’s wrong with Lipson Construction?”

“Ah Mom,” Jacob said. “If we’re going to talk about work, can you change back?”

She nodded and transformed into her usual form. He smiled.

“Will you get us out of this bar?” she asked.

With a nod, they were sitting on a bench looking at the back side of Mount Evans just off of Guanella Pass.

“I loved it here,” Celia said.

“I know,” Jacob said.

“What’s wrong with my company?” Celia asked.

“I don’t know,” Jacob said. “Everyone I trust seems really skittish about this big new job. Why did we get it? Those guys I fired are hovering around the site like buzzards and…”

“Let go, Jacob,” Celia said.

“What’s it matter if I know what’s going to happen?” Jacob shrugged. “The company is almost half owned by employees. It’s not like before when I could change directions on a whim. Every single thing on this job looks perfect on paper. And trust me, the employees are watching the bottom line. I can’t go to them and tell them the job doesn’t feel right. Not with big money on the table.”

“Show me now,” Celia said. “What’s wrong with my company?”

The scene in front of them shifted to the new project out by the airport.

“They want us to manage the entire building of what will be a new town,” Jacob said.


“We’re a tiny company,” Jacob said. “How can we do that?”

“What did the state say when they gave you the job?” Celia asked.

“They wanted to increase opportunity for people,” Jacob said. “We’re moving toward one hundred percent employee ownership. The Governor wanted to put that feather in his cap.”

“Sounds pretty good,” Celia said. “How’s it going?”

“We’re doing it, if that’s what you mean,” Jacob said.

“Any problems?”

“No,” Jacob said. “But people I like and trust, like Bambi and Rodney, they don’t like it either. There’s just a weird feeling. Those guys who quit over the bullying Noelle thing? They’re subcontractors on the job and there every day. They seem so smug and superior. It’s weird.”

“I thought they always thought they were superior?” Celia asked. “You did, after all, sell shares to all those brown people.”

“Yes, the browns,” Jacob shook his head. “And the blacks. Don’t forget them.”

“I haven’t,” Celia said. “I love seeing Rodney and Yvonne together and happy.”

Jacob smiled.

“What do you see that no one else can?” Celia asked him the annoying question she used to ask when he was a child. He scowled at her.

“What do you see?” she repeated.

“Mom, I really don’t want to…”

“I get that,” Celia said. “Do you ever want to get out of this vision?”

“Yes, but…”

“What do you see that no one else can?”

“I see…”

As if they were in the center of a Lazy Susan, the scene spun under them.

“Hold on!” Jacob said.

His mother laughed and their bench spun. Soon, they had a bird’s eye view of the new project and most of northeastern Colorado.

“Looks pretty good to me,” Celia said.

“Who’s that?” Jacob pointed to two people standing in the near distance.

“Looks like Bumpy Wilson,” Celia said.

“That’s Jeraine,” Jacob pointed to the men.

“Should I let them do that fracking on this land in Dearfield?” Bumpy asked.

Bumpy pointed toward the Niobrara oil wells near the border of Colorado.

“There’s oil and natural gas right here,” Bumpy said. “And men who are going to pay big money for it.”

“That’s why were building this city,” Jacob said. “To house the Niobrara oil field workers.”

“Look at that,” Celia pointed to the oil field.

An enormous metal tower pushed pressurized fluid into the earth.

“That’s a fracking tower, Mom,” Jacob said.

“No,” Celia said. “See it.”

Jacob reached out with his senses. He could see the waves of pressure coming off the well like ripples in a river. He saw the ground rupture to release it’s buried treasure. The oil company stood eagerly by to collect those riches. With each injection of fluid, the ground shifted.

“The pressure’s building,” Celia said. “What happens next?”

Jacob shut his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, the ground was shaking. Bumpy and Jeraine were knocked on their sides like bowling pins. The Lipson project was a disaster zone. A jagged crack ran down the center of the newly paved Main Street. Equipment toppled over or fell into sink holes. Their portable construction trailers were tossed like dice in an enormous craps game.

People were screaming in horror and pain. Some workers ran for their lives. People ran to help those stuck in upended earth moving equipment. Rodney was screaming in rage over a man who’d been cut in half. Honey was stuck in a sink hole. The unknown fault made its presence known in the death and destruction of the work site.

“Enough,” Jacob said. “I’ve seen enough.”

They were back on Guanella Pass looking at Mount Evans.

“Did you know?” Celia asked.

“I knew something was wrong,” Jacob said. “I could feel a weird sense of pressure. I just… believed them, went along, and…”

“What will you do now?”

“I have no idea,” Jacob said. “It will cost us millions to get out of it. A geological report will take years to complete. There’s no evidence that this will happen. No one is going to believe me and…”

“You’ll be the weirdo.”

“Again,” Jacob said. “I hate being the weirdo.”

“If you finish Honey’s project?”

“She’ll move out and I really enjoy her living at the Castle,” Jacob said.

“She never mentioned moving out,” Celia said.

“If she moves to the new apartments, she can live with twenty-four hour nursing assistance, no stairs, everything is brand new.”

“You should trust more,” Celia said.

“Been there before,” Jacob shrugged.

“You have to stop this,” Celia said.

“How?” Jacob asked.

“Who did you see in this vision?”

“Bumpy. Jeraine,” Jacob said.

“Maybe you could ask Jeraine when you go finish his house,” Celia said.

“I have time?”

“You have some time,” Celia said. “And son?”

“Yes Mom,” Jacob said.

“You’ve treated people fairly and been a good person all of your life,” Celia said. “People trust you. You need to trust them to think outside their wallet.”

“Doesn’t seem like anyone does that anymore,” Jacob said.

“You’d be surprised,” Celia smiled.

“Anything else?” Jacob asked.

“Just that I love you son,” Celia leaned over to kiss his cheek. “Tell Val that I love her and believe in her. Oh, and Jackie can see me.”


Jacob slowly opened his eyes and smiled at Valerie.

“Mom says ‘hi,’” Jacob smiled. He started to get up and his head exploded with pain. He lay back down.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Valerie kissed his forehead.

He smiled.

“I’ll get you some juice,” Valerie moved away from him. “Did Mom say anything else?”

“She said she loves you and she believes in you,” he said.

Valerie smiled and got up. She was almost to the door when he said.

“Oh and Jackie can see her,” Jacob said.

“I knew it!” Valerie beamed at him. “Mike said I was imagining things. I knew that was Mom with Jackie that night she got scared. I just knew it. Thanks.”

She went out the door and he lay down again. He took his cell phone out of his pocket.


“Hi!” Jill said. “Is everything okay? Blane called to say you were having a vision.”

“Yeah,” Jacob said. “I wonder if you could come pick me up.”

“But… you were really clear,” Jill said. “Home imprisonment for the breeding stock.”

“I was wrong,” Jacob said. “Would you mind taking my Jeep? It has my tools in the back.”

“Sure,” Jill’s voice relayed her glee. “Where are we going?”

“Tanesha’s,” Jacob said.

“Really?” Jill’s voice rose with excitement. “But, that’s a lot of stairs and…”

“Have you had any bleeding?” Jacob asked.

“Never,” Jill said. “We’re fine.”

“If you do, you’ll go back to home imprisonment?” Jacob asked.

“Of course,” Jill said. “I would never risk the boys or myself.”

“Then we’re probably all right.”

“Yea!!” Jill hung up the phone.

Smiling, Jacob lay down on the carpet. That was easy. Before he could wonder how to deal with the hard part, Valerie walk in with a flood of cheerful questions about his vision and juice.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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