Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Denver Cereal - Chapter Two Hundred and Twenty-Two : Perfect


Saturday morning – 5:15 a.m. Somewhere over the United States

A little woozy from the airline champagne, Yvonne turned to look at Rodney. He had the airline blanket pulled up to his chin and his eyes closed. She was about to touch him to see if he was awake when he opened his eyes.

“You okay?” he asked.

She nodded.

“What’s up?” Rodney asked.

“I wondered if you were serious about being naked all week,” Yvonne said. His eyes scanned her face. When he didn’t say anything, she continued, “It just doesn’t seem like you.”

“How so? I’ve always had an intense desire for you, woman.”

“I would expect you to have a big plan about how we’re going to this museum and that one,” Yvonne smiled. “We have to, just have to, see this other thing. I guess, if I were to imagine you in Paris, I wouldn’t imagine you spending the whole time in bed. Some quality time, sure. Not all week. But then I don’t know. Maybe you go to Paris every weekend.”

Rodney laughed.

“Do you go to Paris every weekend?” Yvonne asked.

“No,” Rodney said. “In the summer, I work on Saturdays. In the winter, I split my time between Cañon City, Limon and Buena Vista prisons to mentor young men on Saturdays.”

“You just go to Paris on Sundays?” Yvonne smiled.

“I spend my Sundays at church and with my daughter,” Rodney said. “Your mother fixes an afternoon meal. Bumpy and Dionne come. Miss T is there when she can. It’s nice, reminds me that I’m free.”

“Oh,” Yvonne looked straight ahead.

“You’re saying you don’t want to be naked all week?” Rodney smiled and Yvonne turned her head to look at him. “Well, what do you think?”

“I think some naked time is definitely in order,” Yvonne said. “But I want to see everything and eat all that delicious French cooking.”

“Now that you mentioned it,” Rodney smiled and took out his phone.

“You can’t use that,” Yvonne said. “The lady said that when we took off!”

Rodney smiled.

“What?” Yvonne asked.

“You remembered,” Rodney said.

“I did!” Yvonne beamed.

“The phone’s on airplane mode,” Rodney showed her the setting and she nodded. “I was going to show you.”

He passed the phone to her. There was a map with detailed notes about what to see at each location. He pressed a button which opened a spreadsheet with a schedule of everything he wanted to see.

“That’s my Rodney,” Yvonne said. “What’s this and this?”

She pointed to timeslots on the itinerary.

“Your friend Claire,” Rodney said. “The woman who made your pretty dresses?”

“I remember her,” Yvonne gave him a bright smile.

“Just checking,” Rodney said. “I asked if she could help get appointments to buy you some clothes. She set up appointments for the both of us. She said that either she or her son Frederec would come with us to help.”

Yvonne gave a happy clap.

“Perfect?” He raised his eyebrows. She leaned over and kissed him.

“Thank you,” she said.

He smiled.

“Can I ask you a question?” Yvonne asked.

“Anything,” Rodney asked.

“It’s kind of a…”

“Just ask.”

“Was the spider in the car next to your car? You know in the parking lot of the 7-11?”

Rodney became very still. His eyes reviewed her face.

“The car was a US Government Fleet car,” Rodney said. “There was a guy who was definitely some kind of cop watching us and the car. He wasn’t wearing Kevlar but he had a Glock 22 or 23 in a side holster like the Marshal’s carry.”

“Smelled like him,” Yvonne gave a little shiver. “I made myself not look.”

“The windows of the car were dark tinted and looked like they were bullet proof,” Rodney said. “The way it was rocking and not moving, I’d say it was an armored car.”

“You noticed all of that,” Yvonne said.

Rodney nodded.

“Was he in there?” Yvonne asked.

“I honestly don’t know,” Rodney said. “If he was, it wasn’t because I asked form him to be there.”

“Then who?”

“Seth, maybe,” Rodney said. “Your handsome Homeland Security agent, Senator Hargreaves…”

“You know some important people now,” Yvonne said.

“I met most of them through you,” Rodney smiled. “What if the spider was there in that car?”

“Well…” Yvonne sighed. “It didn’t seem like he could get out.”

“I don’t think he can get out,” Rodney said. “He’s in witness protection. That’s kind of like being in prison. He can’t go where he wants to, can’t see who he wants to; he has to work a real job…”

“What about his family?” Yvonne looked horrified. “That lovely girl I met today?”

“He traded everything to not to go to prison,” Rodney said.


“All his money, his secrets, everything,” Rodney said.

“I don’t believe it,” Yvonne said.

“Everything,” Rodney said. “Bumpy said that his daughters just found out. They’re quite distressed. The youngest was in college. She’ll have to drop out. Seth’s fiancé lost her job. So did her older sister.”

“And he traded it all just to not go to prison?”

Rodney looked away from Yvonne.

“He traded it all for me,” Yvonne whispered. “Then why am I here? Why didn’t I have to go with him?”

“Because of your book,” Rodney said. “Because you are not without friends. But mostly, because the world is filled with decent people who used this opportunity to free you.”

“So I go free,” Yvonne said.

“And he’s locked up like you were,” Rodney said.

“I’m sorry about his family and especially his children,” Yvonne said.

“He’s a monster,” Rodney said. “Only an evil man would do such a thing to his family. But look at what he did to you? To us?”

“Why do you think he was there in the parking lot?” Yvonne asked.

“I don’t know,” Rodney said.

“Any guesses?”

“To show him what he lost,” Rodney said.


“Everything he stole was returned to where it belonged,” Rodney said. “There’s some justice in that.”

Yvonne smiled and leaned back against her seat.


“He never stole my heart.”

Rodney smiled.

“That’s what he really wanted,” Yvonne said. “But he never could have it.”

Rodney couldn’t think of anything to say. He just smiled.

“Do I really get all new clothes?” Yvonne asked.

“Do you have any clothes?”

“No,” Yvonne said. “But I really get all new clothes?”

“We’ll have fun,” Rodney said. “Do you want to go to all these boring old museums with me?”

“I’m never bored when I’m with you,” Yvonne said.

Rodney smiled. Yvonne shut her eyes.

“Are you going to sleep?” Rodney asked.

“If I sleep we’ll get there sooner,” Yvonne said.

Smiling at her logic, he closed his eyes. Yvonne opened her eyes to look at him again. He opened his eyes and reached for her hand. For a moment, their eyes held. She smiled and he kissed her hand.

“Sleep?” he asked.



Saturday morning – 5:15 a.m. Denver, CO

Heather heard a sound and sat up in bed. She’d been sleeping with an ear open for Blane to come home. But this wasn’t Blane.

After the ceremony, she’d taken Mack and Tink home. While Mack was used to sleeping at the Castle, Tink needed her medication and some real rest. Heather had to be super good and try to keep her on her schedule if they were going to be her forever family. So they came home, had a snack, and went to bed.

Heather checked the crib in their room. Mack was sound asleep with his head on his favorite stuffed giraffe and his thumb near his mouth. She put her hand on him to see if he was warm or sick. He seemed fine. She went out of her bedroom and into the hall.

She heard a noise from the room across the hall where Tink was sleeping. Having had a nosy, invasive mother, Heather debated with herself as to whether she should look in. She went back in her room to get her phone. Normally, she would just call Blane. They lived their life together and made every decision together. But tonight, Blane was with Honey and Honey really needed him.

Which one of her girls was awake? Tanesha had left right before they did because she had to study. Jill was becoming a continent on her own. She was surely asleep. She heard the noise again. Unable to stop herself, she jogged across the hall and opened the door.

“Tink?” Heather leaned in the door.

The girl was lying diagonal across the Queen sized bed. Her body jerked and she was making a low moaning noise. Her fist jerked as if she was trying to hit someone.

Heather blinked. She’d seen this before. She crept out of the bedroom.

In the hallway, she dialed Sandy and waited impatiently while the phone rang.

“Yeah,” Charlie said in the phone.

“Jeez Charlie were you raised in a barn?” Sandy asked in the background.

“Yes,” Charlie laughed. “Uh, Sandy’s phone, this is Charles Delgado-Norsen. How’s that?”

Sandy’s voice was muffled.

“Can I talk to Sandy?” Heather asked.

“Who may I say is calling?” Charlie asked.

“You know who this is,” Heather said. “It’s kind of an emergency. And when did you become a Norsen?”

“I thought that would sound super fancy,” Charlie laughed. “It’s for you.”

“It’s my phone,” Sandy said. “Of course it’s for me. Sorry about that.”

“Sandy, I need some help,” Heather said.

“Just a second,” Sandy said. “Okay, I locked myself in the bathroom.”

“Tink’s doing that thing that you used to do,” Heather whispered. “They told us she had seizures but that’s not a seizure.”

“It’s a nightmare?” Sandy asked.

“Looks like those things you used to have,” Heather said. “Night terrors.”

“Poor thing,” Sandy said. “Should I come over?”

Someone pounded on the bathroom door. A deeper voice, probably Aden, said something to the person pounding on the door.

“The natives are full of sugar and excited,” Sandy said. “The outside party is just getting going and Delphie wants them in the clothes she got for them. I hate to say it, but they actually look… civilized.”

Sandy chuckled and Heather smiled.

“I hate to ask… I know you have… but Blane he’s…”

“Give me five minutes,” Sandy said.

The phone went dead. Heather went back to the doorway of the other room. She remembered from Sandy’s night terrors that if she didn’t do it the right way, anything she said or did would get integrated into Tink’s night terror. At this moment, she couldn’t remember what the heck she was supposed to do. Her phone buzzed. She looked down to see that Blane was calling.

“How’s Honey?” Heather tried to be breezy so he wouldn’t know how worried she was.

“She’s just starting real labor,” Blane said. “Sorry it’s been so long. We’ve had a tough time deciding what to do.”

“Why?” Heather asked.

“Because the Midwife wants Honey to fight through natural delivery,” Blane said. “The doctor wants to do a safe C-section. MJ isn’t able to talk and Honey, well… I’m always amazed with her ability to handle everything.”

“Can she deliver naturally?” Heather asked.

“Steve thinks she can and he’s her nurse,” Blane said. “Anyway, I called because I just had that… twinge that you needed me. Are you all right?”

“I think Tink’s having night terrors,” Heather said.

“Not a seizure?” Blane asked.

“They look like what Sandy has sometimes,” Heather said. “I know I can’t say her name or touch her, but I don’t remember what I can do.”

“I’m so sorry I’m not there to help,” Blane said. “You must be worried sick. Should I come home?”

“No,” Heather said. “Honey needs you. And if MJ can’t talk, they both need you to be their voice. Sandy’s coming over so we’ll figure something out.”

“You always amaze me too,” Blane said. “You’re awfully generous.”

Heather blushed at his words.

“We do things together,” Heather said. “I think Honey deserves your undivided attention.”

“Call me if you change your mind,” Blane said. “I’ll call as soon as I can. Love you.”

And he was gone.

Heather paced around in the hallway until she saw Sandy coming up the stairs. Sandy hugged her and went into Tink’s bedroom. She was just there a moment before she came back out.

“Night terrors?” Heather asked.

“Looks like night terrors to me,” Sandy said. “Come on.”

Sandy went into the room and around the bed near Tink’s head. Anxious, Heather lingered near the door.

“Get over here,” Sandy mouthed to Heather. “You’re her mother. Be the Mom you are.”

Heather smiled at Sandy and Sandy grinned. Sandy pointed for Heather to sit down on the bed.

“Say her name,” Sandy said. “We need to comfort her.”

“Tink,” Heather said in a soft comforting voice. Sandy gestured her to say more. “You’re safe. You’re here with us. Tink.”

The girl’s night terror seemed to get worse. Her mouth opened in a grimacing silent scream. Heather looked up at Sandy in desperation.

“Tiffanie,” Sandy said.

The girl stopped moaning. Sandy gestured for Heather to continue.

“Tiffanie, you’re home now, safe and sound,” Heather said in her most comforting voice. “Tiffanie. Remember tonight? You went to the party and sat next to Charlie.”

“Pan,” Sandy whispered.

“Pan,” Heather said. “Tiffanie, you are loved; you are safe; everything is fine.”

“Keep going,” Sandy left the room. Heather heard the bathtub going.

“Tiffanie. Remember your pretty dress and Charlie’s… uh… Pan’s reaction when he saw you?”

The girl seemed to smile.

“You are safe. No one can hurt you now,” Heather said.

Tink rolled onto her back and opened her eyes. Heather gave her a moment before touching her arm.

“Tink?” Heather asked.

The girl threw herself into Heather’s arms and sobbed.

“Keep talking,” Sandy yelled from the bathroom.

“You’re all right,” Heather said. “You’re safe. Everything’s fine. Everything’s fine.”

Heather smoothed the girl’s back with her hand.

“Sandy’s making a bath for you,” Heather said. “She gets night terrors and says these are the best thing to help get you back to the present and relax you. Would you like…?”

Tink pulled back in horror.

“I… I… Did I blow it?” Tink asked. “Are you going to send me back?”

“No way,” Heather said. “Not a chance.”

“Will Sandy tell Pan?” Tink’s eyes seemed luminous with horror.

“Sandy, are you going to tell Charlie about this?” Heather asked.

“Not a chance,” Sandy said. “This is private, girl to girl. Now come on, the bath’s almost ready.”

Heather helped Tink out of her night dress and led her to the bathroom. Sandy helped her into the bath.

“Try to relax,” Sandy said. “Just feel the warm water. We’ll be right outside if you need anything.”

“I’m sorry,” Tink said. “I…”

“You have nothing to be sorry about,” Heather gave Tink a little nod and pulled the bathroom door closed.

“Are you all right?” Sandy hugged Heather. They went into Heather and Blane’s bedroom to talk.

“I think so,” Heather said. “Do you think these are Tink’s seizures?”

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Sandy said. “I know they got a lot worse for me when I started liking boys.”

“You think…” Heather pointed to the bathroom. “And Charlie?”

“Remember how bad they were for me when I started dating Aden?” Sandy smiled.

Heather gave a little clap of her hands.

“You don’t feel bad that they might be happy and you don’t have a romantic boyfriend?” Sandy asked.

“You mean do I feel like my mom does?” Heather smiled.

Sandy nodded.

“No, I don’t feel jealous,” Heather said. “I feel excited for them. Plus, I have really great life. I’m happy.”

Sandy smiled at Heather.

“I guess I passed the test,” Heather said.

“You did,” Sandy said.

“Heather!” Tink called from the bathroom.

Heather went to see.

“I saw the time,” Tink said. “Can we go to the party? I mean even though I…”

“Sure,” Heather said. “But you have to be in the bath at least twenty minutes. I’ll get Mack up in a bit. We’ll go over after he’s awake.”

Heather closed the bathroom door and Sandy applauded.

“You’re a great mom, Heather,” Sandy said.

“Who’d have thought?” Heather beamed.


Saturday morning – 5:15 a.m.


Tanesha slipped out from under Jeraine’s arm and went into the bathroom. Her parents were on their way to Paris and Jeraine had to work all day. The only thing she had to worry about was studying for medical school. She felt almost giddy. The feeling evaporated when she saw the bald spot where the rapist had pulled out a clump of her hair. She made a sour face in the mirror, flushed the toilet, and went out into the bedroom.

Jeraine was sitting on the edge of the bed.

“I thought you were sleeping in?” she asked. Her speech slurred through the wire on her jaw.

“I wanted to talk to you first,” he said.

“I’ve got to study,” she said.

“I know,” he said. “I wanted to talk to you before you started work, and I started work and…”

“You can talk,” she said. “I’ll get dressed.”

His eyes followed her naked form as she went to the closet to get dressed.

“I write a lot of songs about love,” Jeraine said. “A lot of songs about you and me and our love and…”

She turned to look at him while she pulled on her underwear.

“I was moved by the service yesterday,” he said.

“I noticed,” she wiggled her eyebrows and he smiled. “Last night was fun.”

“Not just sex,” he said. “I mean the sex was great but… Ah shit.”

He shook his head and stalked to the bathroom. She sat down on the bed to pull on her boots. When he came out, she patted the bed. He sat down.

“What are you saying?” she asked.

“Last night, in the middle of everything, and when your Dad broke down…” Jeraine said. “I… just kinda understood something I didn’t before.”

Tanesha watched him search for words.

“Love, real love, like what you and I have, like what your parents have, my parents…” Jeraine said. “It’s sacred… from God or whoever. By whoring around, all the women and drugs… I make profane something godly… like sullying a holy gift from God. I definitely took the gift, married you, but then I mess up and…”

Tanesha reached for his hand. He held her hand close to his heart.

“Your Dad is a great man,” Jeraine said.

“So’s yours,” Tanesha said.

“I want to be a great man,” Jeraine said. “Worthy of the real gift of your love.”

Tanesha smiled.

“That’s it,” Jeraine said. “That’s all I wanted to say.”

“What are you going to do?” Tanesha asked. “It’s nice to say something. Anyone can say something. You have to do something, Jeraine!”

Jeraine gave her one of his ‘gotcha’ smiles. She shook her head at him and he laughed.

“I’m going to do my work here,” Jeraine said. “I’m going to focus on my head therapy and my mind therapy and I’m going to love you. We’ll do medical school together because I’ll take care of you, love you, while you study. I don’t think I have to do a lot of things differently. I think I have to receive all that I’ve been given.”

Tanesha smiled.

“See, I’m not as thick as you thought,” Jeraine said.

Tanesha leaned forward and he kissed her.

“I’m cutting my hair off and going natural,” Tanesha said.

“That’s your response?” Jeraine looked offended.

“No, that was a test,” Tanesha said. “To see if you were sincere about loving me or just being your old charming psychopathic Mr. It.”

“Did I pass?”

“Do you have some snide comment to make about my hair?” Tanesha asked.

Jeraine opened his mouth and then closed it. He shook his head.

“Then you passed.”

She kissed him.

“I love you, Jer,” she said. “I always have.”

“I love you, Miss T,” Jeraine said. “Did you hear your Mom and mine at the party? They said I couldn’t wait for you to be born.”

“I’d be your best friend,” Tanesha smiled.

“My mom said that when I learned you were a girl, I told her I was going to marry you,” Jeraine said. “I told her you would be the best thing that ever happened to me and you are.”

She smiled at him.

“I’ll make breakfast,” Jeraine said. “The extra bedroom is all set up for you to study. The guys will be here in an hour for breakfast but you can just ignore us.”

She smiled.

“What?” he asked.

“I feel like I’m just starting my life,” Tanesha said. “My parents are safe and together. You’re off drugs, not whoring around, not in jail and even happy! With me!”

She smiled.

“I’m glad we’re still together,” he said.

“Me too,” she said. Her eyes glanced at the clock. “Is that the time? Oh goodness, I have so much to do!”

Without another word, she hopped up and jogged to the second bedroom. A few minutes later, he tapped on the door with her cup of tea. She opened the door, grabbed the mug, and closed the door in his face. Smiling, he went to shower.

Denver Cereal continues on next week…


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