Chapter Six Hundred and Forty - A moving day (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FORTY

(part three)

“Maggie?” Mack asked. “Why are you mad?”

“He has powers,” Tres said under his breath to Jeraine.

Jeraine gave a slow nod.

Maggie started to sob. Mack went to his friend and hugged her while she talked and cried. Tres made out that her mother went back to work today and her father thought he might not be home tonight and her best friends weren’t playing with her and her hair was lumpy and Tink was mad at her and she’d done something terrible by coming here and she was alone this morning and. . . On and on the tiny child went. She was so grief-stricken that even Tink’s justifiable anger eased.

When Maggie was calmer, Mack stepped back. He looked up at Tres and Jeraine.

“Can Maggie come inside?” Mack asked. He looked up at Tink. “T’nk?”

Mack held out his hand and a golden apple appeared in his palm. Without hesitation, Tink took the apple and bit into it.

“Th-nks,” Tink said with a full mouth.

Smiling at his big sister, Mack nodded. Tink picked him up with one arm while holding the apple in the other.

“May as well come inside,” Tink said. “I need to change anyway.”

She finished eating the apple and held it out to Mack. He blew on it. The apple core flew across the cement path and landed in the dirt. Everyone watched in awe as a tree grew — from sprout to five feet — where the apple’s core had landed.

“I wondered where those were coming from,” Tres said.

“Mama said we could move them if there’s too many,” Mack said.

“Your mama’s brilliant,” Tres said, giving the boy a warm smile.

Tink smirked at Tres. Jabari held his hand out to Maggie and they all went inside the cool house.

“Can I see your new bedrooms?” Maggie asked.

“This way!” Jabari said.

Maggie ran after Jabari. Tink set Mack down, and he ran off after the other children.

“Well,” Tink said as she walked past the men. “Any idea where my dad is?”

“Blane’s in his acupuncture studio,” Tres said. “I’ll keep an eye on the kids if you want to talk with him.”

“Thanks, funky-dad,” Tink said.

Tres grinned and watched her head inside.

“Funky-dad?” Jeraine asked with a raise of the eyebrows.

“She wanted to call me fuck-dad,” Tres said.

Jeraine laughed, and Tres smiled. There was another knock at the door. Tres went to watch the kids while Jeraine dealt with the movers. Another load of possessions was coming from the storage.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


My phone has a life of its own on TikTok

Phone

Someone named, possibly, "Rusty", used my cellphone number on TikTok.
 
He or she told his or her viewers that they should "call" to connect.
 
I've been getting calls non-stop since about 11 p.m, Saturday night.
 
I checked my TikTok account, changed the password, etc, but that wasn't the problem. I talked to the cellphone company and their only solution was to change the number on the phone or for me to try to wait it out. I would ask TikTok to take the post down, but I can't find it.
 
The calls are from very young girls -- teens? pre-teens? -- from around the world. They seem very excited or nervous. They're usually panting a little bit. When I've answered, they don't respond so there's no way to get information from those who call.
 
But they are calling for a reason. I'm not sure what.
 
And, I'm confident that they are not calling to speak with me.
 
As for me... I trying to wait it out. My phone is on "do not disturb" so I am now getting messages from breathless young girls from all over the globe.
 
Hopefully, this will end soon.

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Forty - A moving day (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FORTY

(part two)

“You aren’t my mom!” Maggie said. “You can’t make me!”

“Uh!” Tink said. “We’ve been over and over this. You can’t be here because they’re moving in!”

“But it’s Thursday!” Maggie said, as if Tink was dumb or possible deaf. “We play on Thursdays.”

“Did you cross that street by yourself?” Tink asked. Her hands went to her hips and her voice was hard.

“I’m not a stupid baby,” Maggie said in a near perfect imitation of Katy’s latest favorite comeback. The girl gestured to the paparazzi across the street “I had one of those men walk me across.”

Maggie!” Tink said.

Realizing that Tres and Jeraine were standing there, Tink looked up at them. The men gave her nearly identical “It wasn’t me” faces. She looked back at Maggie. She opened her mouth to speak, but Tres cut her off.

“How about this?” Tres asked. “Why don’t we bring Mack and Jabari back to the Castle?”

“I can’t look after more kids!” Tink said. “Noelle and Nash are watching Katy, Paddie, Jackie, Eddy, Máire and Joey. Charlie has all of the other kids — including those wild twins! — while I’m chasing down this one! The girlfriends are getting your stuff out of the storage container! We can’t take any more kids!”

“I’ll go,” Tres said. He gave her a kind smile.

“Who are you?” Tink asked.

“Good philosophical question,” Tres said. “We have met before. You actually know me.”

Tink gave him a deadly look.

“Right now, I’m the person who is resolving this situation,” Tres said.

“Don’t you have something to do over here?” Tink asked.

“I’m in charge of Mack and Wyn today,” Tres said. “I’m off for a few days because of job sharing.”

“Whatever,” Tink said. “Maggie, you need to get back to the Castle.”

“No!” Maggie said. “I won’t go without Mack and Jabari! I won’t go! I won’t go! I won’t go! I won’t go!”

Jeraine winced. He’d been in the middle of a Katy melt-down once. It had permanently scarred him. He held his breath.

“She doesn’t have powers,” Tres said under the sound of the shouting girl.

“Thank God for that,” Jeraine said.

The sound of Maggie brought Mack and Jabari to the door. They saw their friend’s red angry face and her messed up hair. Jabari shifted to hide behind Jeraine’s leg, while Mack waded right in.

“Maggie?” Mack asked. “Why are you mad?”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Forty - A moving day (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FORTY

(part one)

Thursday morning — 9:00 a.m.

“I don’t know,” Tres Sierra said to Jeraine. “Did you ask Jake?”

They were standing in the hallway of their new home. Jeraine, Tanesha, and Jabari had starting moving in the night before.

“He told me to ask you,” Jeraine said. “He’s been a little. . .”

Jeraine pointed to his temple and rotated his wrist in a gesture that meant “crazy.”

“Too much to think about,” Tres said with a laugh. “And you just had to drop a murder in his lap.”

“Hey.” Jeraine held up his hands as if he were being threatened. “It wasn’t me.”

Tres laughed. There was a knock at the door and Tres went to the front door to open it.

“Who’s fault is it then?” Tres asked laughing.

“I. . .” Jeraine started but stopped as Tres opened the door.

They expected the movers with more of their furniture from storage.

No one was there.

“Hello?” Tres asked.

He leaned out the door and looked left and then right. Jeraine tapped his arm and pointed down.

Maggie Scully was standing outside the door. She held a tiny pink suitcase in her fists just over her knees. Her usually perfect pigtails were disheveled. Her face, neck, chest, even her hands were bright red. She looked furious.

“Maggie!” Tres said.

“My friends are here,” Maggie said.

She marched into the house. Realizing she had no idea where she was going, she looked up at Tres and then saw Jeraine.

“Is Jabari ready?” Maggie asked.

“Jabari?” Jeraine asked, trying to remember if he forgot something. “He’s downstairs.”

“Where’s Mack?” Maggie asked.

“He’s. . .” Jeraine said.

“Wait,” Tres said. “Just wait. Why are you here, Maggie?”

“It’s Thursday morning,” Maggie said. “We always play on Thursday morning.”

“Does your mom know that you’re here?” Tres asked.

“She went to work today,” Maggie said.

Through the open door, they saw Tink race out of the Castle, through the gate, and across the street. She jogged up the hill to where their front door.

“Maggie!” Tink said, clearly angry.

“I’m not talking to you,” Maggie said. “I don’t have to talk to anyone I don’t want to.”

“You cannot leave on your own!” Tink said.

Dawning awareness came to the men. They looked down at the tiny girl. She was looking angry and more than a little embarrassed.

“You aren’t my mom!” Maggie said. “You can’t make me!”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-nine - Building (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-NINE

(part six)

“Is Wretched angry?” Whitestone asked.

“Sad,” Seth said. “This entire thing is so sad. I spent an hour with your kids while they wept for their mother. They knew that she wasn’t cheating around. They knew what she was doing. You never asked them?”

“Never thought to,” Whitestone said. “They were kids.”

Whitestone shrugged.

“It was different then,” Whitestone said. “When their mother died, they went to live with her people. I sent money every month. They grew up in California. I didn’t see them again until they were long grown.”

“A couple of them live here now,” Seth said.

“To be near their kids,” Whitestone said. “Not me. They didn’t move here for me. But I’ll tell you, I gave them all I had left from the ballroom — more than $100,000. Those kids went to college on that ballroom. Made good lives for themselves.”

“I bet they would have rather had their mother,” Seth said.

Whitestone’s head jerked up to look at him. Seeing no judgement in Seth’s eyes, Whitestone nodded.

“You’re probably right,” Whitestone said. “Truth of the matter is that I would have had a better life if I hadn’t. . . I spent my life boozing and. . . doing nothing. That ballroom was the best of me. I killed the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“That’s likely,” Seth said.

“What happens now?” Whitestone asked.

“Your kids are asking for compassionate release,” Seth said. “Because of the cancer. That’s really up to the judge.”

Seth looked at Whitestone for a long moment.

“Jeraine is planning on having concerts in the ballroom,” Seth said. “Over the Internet. They think that they can manage the airflow and keep people healthy.”

“That’s good thinking,” Whitestone said. “That boy is smart.”

“He is,” Seth said nodded.

He waited for a moment and then looked at Whitestone.

“Is there anything else I should add?” Seth asked.

Whitestone shook his head.

“I’ve been waiting for this day since the day I kill them,” Whitestone said. “In some ways, it’s a relief to be here.”

Seth nodded and got up.

“I’ll get this typed up and get it to you,” Seth said. “I’ll have it for your signature later today.”

“Thanks, O’Malley,” Whitestone said. “Big Daddy would be proud of you.”

Seth snorted a kind of laugh and left the room. He closed the door and stood behind it for a long moment.

He couldn’t help but feel sad. At the peak of his success, this man had killed his wife and destroyed his family because he believed a cruel liar. That man was long dead. Yet there sat the man who’d acted on the liars words. Whitestone would spend his last days on this earth in prison for acting on the lie.

Sighing, Seth left to go find someone who could help him type up this statement.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...


Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-nine - Building

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-NINE

“It is perfectly legal,” the son said.

“So is this,” William said. “We’ll file by end of day today to take control of the buildings. Unless, of course, you have the money to pay off the loan?”

“You’ll give us a month?” the son asked.

Bernie looked at his lawyer.

“How long did they give their tenants?” Bernie asked.

“Twelve hours,” William said.

“I’ll give you twelve hours from the time we notified you about this meeting,” Bernie said.

“That would be. . .” William looked at his watch, “. . . ten minutes from now.”

The father’s head continued to shake back and forth. The son started spewing words. His flawless, unlined face made every effort to twist around the cruel, rage-filled word. It was odd to watch the plasticity of the skin, so smooth and blemish free, bend around the rage. Bernie and William watched in fascination.

After a few minutes, two security guards arrived at the office and dragged the shouting son and his shocked father out of the conference room.

Bernie and the son of his old lawyer, his current his lawyer, William, sat in silence for a moment.

“That was. . .” William said.

Bernie started laughing.

“Satisfying,” William said. “Yes, yes, it was most satisfying. You have balls of steel, old man.”

“As do you,” Bernie said.

William’s face was covered in a face mask but Bernie was pretty sure he was grinning.

“We become what we hate,” Bernie said, gesturing to the door. “The boy reminded me of the Nazis — then and now.”

“If I’m honest,” William said.

Bernie gave a slight nod.

“He terrified me,” William said. “You’ve seen this before?”

“During the war,” Bernie nodded. Rather than spend time talking about Nazi evil, he said, “Did you know that it was my granddaughter who found the trove of Jewish art?”

“In Poland?” William was either surprised or was polite enough to act surprised. “Salt mine?”

“My Seth helped get it,” Bernie said.

“O’Malley is an incredible man,” William said. “Why do you bring this up?”

“My granddaughter gave me something for you,” Bernie said.

William’s hand flew to his heart.

“You. . .” William started. Overcome, the man’s eyes welled with tears. “You. . .”

“Is your father here?” Bernie asked.

“I won’t let him come into the city,” William said. “It’s too dangerous for the elderly.”

Bernie gave a quick nod. He reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a tissue paper wrapped packet. He set it on the table and pushed it over to William.

William’s eyes held Bernie’s for a long moment before he looked down at what was in front of him. His fingers picked at the tissue until it began to unfold.

A shiny gold pocket watch the size of a quarter and two gleaming rings were nestled inside the tissue. He opened the ornate pocket watch cover to reveal a beautiful face. In an effort to control his emotions, William snapped the lid to the watch closed. Bernie pointed to a set of initials engraved in the watch. William’s thumb moved over the engraving as if he were caressing soft skin.

“It’s on the rings, too,” Bernie said.

When William looked up, tears were streaming down his face. Bernie nodded.

“We may have more of your possessions. It will take some time,” Bernie said. “But I wanted to get this to you as soon as we knew they was yours.”

William had opened the watch again.

“Your great-great-grandfather made that watch,” Bernie said. “He signed it inside the instrumentation. We had it cleaned and a new timing coil put in so that it will work. I thought you should have it, especially during this challenging time.”

William gave Bernie a nod. Bernie grinned at the son of his old lawyer.

Bernie stood up from his seat and left the room. He nodded to the young woman at the front and left the office. He was in the elevator when his cellphone rang.

“Thank you,” William croaked. “My father is crying his eyes out. Right now. These are his parents’ rings.”

“Yes,” Bernie said. “They are.”

“Your granddaughter is Sandy Delgado?” William asked.

“Seth’s child with Andy Mendy,” Bernie said.

“I was going to say that she looks so much like Andy,” William said. “I looked her up. Your granddaughter. What a beautiful person.”

“She’s amazing,” Bernie said. “This effort of hers could use some help.”

“Donations?” William asked.

“Assistance distributing the items, determining their authenticity,” Bernie said. “And, between you and me, more than a few of your father’s friends are acting like jackasses. One of his friends is suing her for not giving him his item long before he or she knew it even exited! Is that how we deal with people now? No patience, no trust — just bring in the lawyers to harass someone who’s done you a favor.”

“I’ll take care of it,” William said. “You can’t imagine what this means to us. Thank you.”

“And it’s our pleasure,” Bernie said.

“Let me know if you need anything else,” William said. “Anything at all. As it is, you’ll take possession of the buildings by five tonight.”

“Thank you,” Bernie said, but William had gone.

Grinning at himself, Bernie left the building. He found Maresol where he’s left her.

“How did it go?” Maresol asked, standing.

“Much screaming,” Bernie said.

“Yes, I saw that,” Maresol said, as she tucked her hand into his arm. “How do you think he keeps his face so still while he spews such hate?”

“No idea,” Bernie said.

“I think he’s the devil,” Maresol said. “A demon at the very least.”

“Could be,” Bernie said. “We did just give him a very, very bad day.”

Chuckling, she squeezed his arm. They walked to the car that was waiting for them. He opened the door for her and she got inside. They returned to Seth’s building where anxious people waited to find out if they would have their homes this winter.

~~~~~~~~

Thursday morning — 9:00 a.m.

Denver, Colorado

Seth O’Malley knocked on the interview room with his foot. A uniformed officer opened the door and nodded. Seth went into the room carrying two cups of coffee.

“Coffee?” Seth asked.

The man in the interview room looked up at him and then nodded. Seth sat down across from the man. For a minute, they both took long drinks from their coffee cups. Seth set his down and looked at the man across from him.

In his day, this man — Gerald Whitestone — must have been a giant. Well into his 90th year, he still held himself with the powerful look of someone to be reckoned with. Thick chest and biceps pushed through the man’s tailored suit. His skin wasn’t quite brown and wasn’t exactly black. His eyes were on the brown side of hazel. What hair the man had left was combed back across his dome.

They had both been tested for Covid-19 before they entered this room. Neither was seemed to have the disease.

“The detectives tell me that you’ve made it through a physical and psychological evaluation,” Seth said.

Gerald Whitestone nodded.

“You’ve had your Miranda Rights read,” Seth said. “Any questions?”

Gerald Whitestone shook his head.

“We’re taping this interview,” Seth said. “Audio and video.”

“Got it,” Gerald Whitestone said.

“What would you like me to call you?” Seth asked.

“Whitestone,” Gerald Whitestone said. “You mind if I call you, O’Malley?”

“Most people do,” Seth said with a grin.

“You know ’bout the cancer?” Whitestone asked.

Seth nodded.

“I’ve got about three months to live,” Whitestone said.

“That’s why I’m here,” Seth said.

“You aren’t po-lice anymore, are you?” Whitestone asked.

Seth shook his head.

“I work special investigations, cold cases,” Seth said with a shrug. “They let me talk to people like you.”

“Why’s that?” Whitestone asked.

“They think that you’ll talk to me,” Seth said with a shrug. He held the cup to his lips. “Two old men in a room.”

Whitestone laughed. The men finished their coffee. Seth replaced his facemask and waited for Whitestone to do the same.

“That detective is older than you,” Whitestone said.

“More miles,” Seth said.

Seth gave Whitestone a long look.

“When I was a kid, I used to spend my weekends playing at the swing clubs in New York City,” Seth said.

“Big Daddy,” Whitestone said, softly, as if he didn’t want anyone to hear.

“I took jazz lessons from his father-in-law,” Seth said, not willing to give up the name of his mentor to the police detectives behind the mirrored glass.

Whitestone’s indicated that he knew who Seth was referring to.

“I spent a lot of my youth in those clubs,” Seth said.

“You can’t charge me for the swing club,” Whitestone said. “Or selling alcohol. They aren’t crimes any longer.”

“Murder,” Seth said. “You’re here for murdering your wife as well as another male, Mrs. Jones and a child.”

“Fair enough,” Whitestone said.

Whitestone leaned back in his chair. Sitting in silence, the men looked at each other for a long moment. Whitestone sighed.

“You waiting for me to confess?” Whitestone asked.

“No,” Seth said. “You did that last night.”

“That’s right,” Whitestone said. “There’s nothing wrong with killing a cheating woman. Not one thing.”

“That’s what I was thinking about,” Seth said.

Whitestone looked up at him.

“According to Wretched Jones, your wife wasn’t cheating on you,” Seth said.

“What about that man?” Whitestone asked indignantly. “She spent a powerful lot of time with him.”

“According to Wretched, the man was a teacher,” Seth said. “He was teaching your wife, and his, how to read.”

Whitestone made a “tsk” sound and shook his head in disbelief.

“Your wife was also learning basic accounting,” Seth said. “I guess you were having trouble with people stealing?”

“That’s just it,” Whitestone said. “I couldn’t tell.”

“She wanted to surprise you by doing all of the books,” Seth said.

“Nah,” Whitestone said. “She was cheating. I knew it the moment it started. Heard it from a guy who said he saw them together kissing and carrying on.”

“This guy,” Seth said. “He wouldn’t happen to be tall, lanky white guy?”

“Jeramiah Simons,” Whitestone said with a nod.

“You mean Sergeant Jeramiah Simons,” Seth said. “Soon to become Captain? Spent his nights and weekends in a white hood?”

Seth gestured with his hands to indicate a pointed hood.

“He the klan?” Whitestone asked. For a moment, his mouth dropped open. “Po-lice?”

“Feds,” Seth said.

“I’ll be God-damned,” Whitestone said with a slow shake of his head.

“They set you up,” Seth said pointing to Whitestone. “They didn’t care if you killed your black wife or Wretched’s, for that matter. They wanted to get rid of the teacher who was giving good hardworking black people an education. And they wanted to get rid of places where black people could congregate, enjoy themselves.”

Seth picked up a piece of paper and read.

“Reducing the native population was the cat’s meow,” Seth read. Seth looked up at Whitestone. “This is a letter he wrote to his superior.”

“How did you get that?” Whitestone asked. “That for real?”

Nodding, Seth set the sheet down. Whitestone picked up the paper and read the letter for himself.

“I. . .” Whitestone started and then stopped. “He. . .”

Seth nodded.

“It’s easy to get led astray when you want to believe it,” Seth said. “You had mistresses? It says here that you have three kids by three other women besides your first wife.”

“Sure,” Whitestone said.

“You thought your wife was behaving like you were,” Seth said.

Whitestone gave Seth a long look. After a moment, his head went up and down.

“You’re right,” Whitestone said. “My wife was a Christian woman. She drove me crazy with all of the praying and church going. I wanted. . . Well, I don’t know what I wanted.”

“You were relieved when you could justify killing her,” Seth said.

“Now where do you come off. . .” Whitestone started.

“Big Daddy told me that a very long time ago,” Seth said. “It’s taken me all of these years to realize it was this speakeasy — you — he was talking about.”

Whitestone looked away from Seth, and Seth waited. After a moment, the elderly man’s eyes flicked back to Seth.

“Big Daddy,” Whitestone said with a shake of his head. “The guy before him gave us the capital to start the club. First time I saw Big Daddy, he was traveling with his parents. Huh. The kid had my number the whole time.”

“Big Daddy had everyone’s number,” Seth nodded. “That’s how and why he was able to be who he was for such a long time.”

Whitestone nodded.

“Your children would like to bury their mother,” Seth said. “I guess there’s a plot already purchased for the both of you?”

Whitestone didn’t move.

“We’ll make arrangements,” Seth said.

“They still okay with me going in the ground there?” Whitestone asked.

Seth gave a slight nod.

“They’ve always known that you killed your wife,” Seth said. “At least that’s what your eldest daughter said.”

Whitestone gave Seth a slow nod.

“Out of curiosity, were you involved in building the ballroom?” Seth asked.

“No,” Whitestone said. “That place been around since the 1890s. Build by some guy named Marlowe. I’ll tell you — he built places all over the city. Secret places where people of all colors could meet up. You know. . .”

Whitestone leaned forward onto the table.

“It’s owned by a guy named ‘Marlowe’ now,” Whitestone said. “That family is an old, old Colorado family. They built places all over. Own a mine in Leadville that’s supposed to be filled with blue diamonds, but I don’t know that for a fact.”

“He found the ballroom,” Seth said.

“I bet he’d find them all,” Whitestone said.

“I’m not sure he knows about them,” Seth said.

“He will now,” Whitestone said. “You’ll tell him.”

Chuckling to himself, Whitestone nodded.

“The Feds want me to about the Phosogene,” Seth said. “Did you fight in Europe in World War I? There’s no record of it.”

“My big brother from my Daddy’s first family. Brought that back from the war,” Whitestone said. “You have to understand — most blacks believed that white people would wipe us out. My brother used to say, ‘There’s going to be a race war and we need to be prepared.’ I used the club to organize our people. Take a stand. Many of the more recent black politicians came out of our movement.”

“And now?” Seth asked. “Do you have any more gas canisters? Bomb? Anything lurking in your storage shed?”

Whitestone shook his head.

“At least I don’t think so,” Whitestone said. “My brother was alive when I. . . Well, you know. He told me to use the gas. I did just what he said. He helped me close up the wall. We left the ballroom and never went back.”

Seth nodded.

“Is Wretched angry?” Whitestone asked.

“Sad,” Seth said. “This entire thing is so sad. I spent an hour with your kids while they wept for their mother. They knew that she wasn’t cheating around. They knew what she was doing. You never asked them?”

“Never thought to,” Whitestone said. “They were kids.”

Whitestone shrugged.

“It was different then,” Whitestone said. “When their mother died, they went to live with her people. I sent money every month. They grew up in California. I didn’t see them again until they were long grown.”

“A couple of them live here now,” Seth said.

“To be near their kids,” Whitestone said. “Not me. They didn’t move here for me. But I’ll tell you, I gave them all I had left from the ballroom — more than $100,000. Those kids went to college on that ballroom. Made good lives for themselves.”

“I bet they would have rather had their mother,” Seth said.

Whitestone’s head jerked up to look at him. Seeing no judgement in Seth’s eyes, Whitestone nodded.

“You’re probably right,” Whitestone said. “Truth of the matter is that I would have had a better life if I hadn’t. . . I spent my life boozing and. . . doing nothing. That ballroom was the best of me. I killed the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“That’s likely,” Seth said.

“What happens now?” Whitestone asked.

“Your kids are asking for compassionate release,” Seth said. “Because of the cancer. That’s really up to the judge.”

Seth looked at Whitestone for a long moment.

“Jeraine is planning on having concerts in the ballroom,” Seth said. “Over the Internet. They think that they can manage the airflow and keep people healthy.”

“That’s good thinking,” Whitestone said. “That boy is smart.”

“He is,” Seth said nodded.

He waited for a moment and then looked at Whitestone.

“Is there anything else I should add?” Seth asked.

Whitestone shook his head.

“I’ve been waiting for this day since the day I kill them,” Whitestone said. “In some ways, it’s a relief to be here.”

Seth nodded and got up.

“I’ll get this typed up and get it to you,” Seth said. “I’ll have it for your signature later today.”

“Thanks, O’Malley,” Whitestone said. “Big Daddy would be proud of you.”

Seth snorted a kind of laugh and left the room. He closed the door and stood behind it for a long moment.

He couldn’t help but feel sad. At the peak of his success, this man had killed his wife and destroyed his family because he believed a cruel liar. That man was long dead. Yet there sat the man who’d acted on the liars words. Whitestone would spend his last days on this earth in prison for acting on the lie.

Sighing, Seth left to go find someone who could help him type up this statement.

Denver Cereal continues next week...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-nine - Building (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-NINE

(part five)

“You’re right,” Whitestone said. “My wife was a Christian woman. She drove me crazy with all of the praying and church going. I wanted. . . Well, I don’t know what I wanted.”

“You were relieved when you could justify killing her,” Seth said.

“Now where do you come off. . .” Whitestone started.

“Big Daddy told me that a very long time ago,” Seth said. “It’s taken me all of these years to realize it was this speakeasy — you — he was talking about.”

Whitestone looked away from Seth, and Seth waited. After a moment, the elderly man’s eyes flicked back to Seth.

“Big Daddy,” Whitestone said with a shake of his head. “The guy before him gave us the capital to start the club. First time I saw Big Daddy, he was traveling with his parents. Huh. The kid had my number the whole time.”

“Big Daddy had everyone’s number,” Seth nodded. “That’s how and why he was able to be who he was for such a long time.”

Whitestone nodded.

“Your children would like to bury their mother,” Seth said. “I guess there’s a plot already purchased for the both of you?”

Whitestone didn’t move.

“We’ll make arrangements,” Seth said.

“They still okay with me going in the ground there?” Whitestone asked.

Seth gave a slight nod.

“They’ve always known that you killed your wife,” Seth said. “At least that’s what your eldest daughter said.”

Whitestone gave Seth a slow nod.

“Out of curiosity, were you involved in building the ballroom?” Seth asked.

“No,” Whitestone said. “That place been around since the 1890s. Build by some guy named Marlowe. I’ll tell you — he built places all over the city. Secret places where people of all colors could meet up. You know. . .”

Whitestone leaned forward onto the table.

“It’s owned by a guy named ‘Marlowe’ now,” Whitestone said. “That family is an old, old Colorado family. They built places all over. Own a mine in Leadville that’s supposed to be filled with blue diamonds, but I don’t know that for a fact.”

“He found the ballroom,” Seth said.

“I bet he’d find them all,” Whitestone said.

“I’m not sure he knows about them,” Seth said.

“He will now,” Whitestone said. “You’ll tell him.”

Chuckling to himself, Whitestone nodded.

“The Feds want me to about the Phosogene,” Seth said. “Did you fight in Europe in World War I? There’s no record of it.”

“My big brother from my Daddy’s first family. Brought that back from the war,” Whitestone said. “You have to understand — most blacks believed that white people would wipe us out. My brother used to say, ‘There’s going to be a race war and we need to be prepared.’ I used the club to organize our people. Take a stand. Many of the more recent black politicians came out of our movement.”

“And now?” Seth asked. “Do you have any more gas canisters? Bomb? Anything lurking in your storage shed?”

Whitestone shook his head.

“At least I don’t think so,” Whitestone said. “My brother was alive when I. . . Well, you know. He told me to use the gas. I did just what he said. He helped me close up the wall. We left the ballroom and never went back.”

Seth nodded.

“Is Wretched angry?” Whitestone asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-nine - Building (part four)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-NINE

(part four)

Whitestone leaned back in his chair. Sitting in silence, the men looked at each other for a long moment. Whitestone sighed.

“You waiting for me to confess?” Whitestone asked.

“No,” Seth said. “You did that last night.”

“That’s right,” Whitestone said. “There’s nothing wrong with killing a cheating woman. Not one thing.”

“That’s what I was thinking about,” Seth said.

Whitestone looked up at him.

“According to Wretched Jones, your wife wasn’t cheating on you,” Seth said.

“What about that man?” Whitestone asked indignantly. “She spent a powerful lot of time with him.”

“According to Wretched, the man was a teacher,” Seth said. “He was teaching your wife, and his, how to read.”

Whitestone made a “tsk” sound and shook his head in disbelief.

“Your wife was also learning basic accounting,” Seth said. “I guess you were having trouble with people stealing?”

“That’s just it,” Whitestone said. “I couldn’t tell.”

“She wanted to surprise you by doing all of the books,” Seth said.

“Nah,” Whitestone said. “She was cheating. I knew it the moment it started. Heard it from a guy who said he saw them together kissing and carrying on.”

“This guy,” Seth said. “He wouldn’t happen to be tall, lanky white guy?”

“Jeramiah Simons,” Whitestone said with a nod.

“You mean Sergeant Jeramiah Simons,” Seth said. “Soon to become Captain? Spent his nights and weekends in a white hood?”

Seth gestured with his hands to indicate a pointed hood.

“He the klan?” Whitestone asked. For a moment, his mouth dropped open. “Po-lice?”

“Feds,” Seth said.

“I’ll be God-damned,” Whitestone said with a slow shake of his head.

“They set you up,” Seth said pointing to Whitestone. “They didn’t care if you killed your black wife or Wretched’s, for that matter. They wanted to get rid of the teacher who was giving good hardworking black people an education. And they wanted to get rid of places where black people could congregate, enjoy themselves.”

Seth picked up a piece of paper and read.

“Reducing the native population was the cat’s meow,” Seth read. Seth looked up at Whitestone. “This is a letter he wrote to his superior.”

“How did you get that?” Whitestone asked. “That for real?”

Nodding, Seth set the sheet down. Whitestone picked up the paper and read the letter for himself.

“I. . .” Whitestone started and then stopped. “He. . .”

Seth nodded.

“It’s easy to get led astray when you want to believe it,” Seth said. “You had mistresses? It says here that you have three kids by three other women besides your first wife.”

“Sure,” Whitestone said.

“You thought your wife was behaving like you were,” Seth said.

Whitestone gave Seth a long look. After a moment, his head went up and down.

“You’re right,” Whitestone said. “My wife was a Christian woman. She drove me crazy with all of the praying and church going. I wanted. . . Well, I don’t know what I wanted.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-nine - Building (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-NINE

(part three)

Thursday morning — 9:00 a.m.

Denver, Colorado

Seth O’Malley knocked on the interview room with his foot. A uniformed officer opened the door and nodded. Seth went into the room carrying two cups of coffee.

“Coffee?” Seth asked.

The man in the interview room looked up at him and then nodded. Seth sat down across from the man. For a minute, they both took long drinks from their coffee cups. Seth set his down and looked at the man across from him.

In his day, this man — Gerald Whitestone — must have been a giant. Well into his 90th year, he still held himself with the powerful look of someone to be reckoned with. Thick chest and biceps pushed through the man’s tailored suit. His skin wasn’t quite brown and wasn’t exactly black. His eyes were on the brown side of hazel. What hair the man had left was combed back across his dome.

They had both been tested for Covid-19 before they entered this room. Neither was seemed to have the disease.

“The detectives tell me that you’ve made it through a physical and psychological evaluation,” Seth said.

Gerald Whitestone nodded.

“You’ve had your Miranda Rights read,” Seth said. “Any questions?”

Gerald Whitestone shook his head.

“We’re taping this interview,” Seth said. “Audio and video.”

“Got it,” Gerald Whitestone said.

“What would you like me to call you?” Seth asked.

“Whitestone,” Gerald Whitestone said. “You mind if I call you, O’Malley?”

“Most people do,” Seth said with a grin.

“You know ’bout the cancer?” Whitestone asked.

Seth nodded.

“I’ve got about three months to live,” Whitestone said.

“That’s why I’m here,” Seth said.

“You aren’t po-lice anymore, are you?” Whitestone asked.

Seth shook his head.

“I work special investigations, cold cases,” Seth said with a shrug. “They let me talk to people like you.”

“Why’s that?” Whitestone asked.

“They think that you’ll talk to me,” Seth said with a shrug. He held the cup to his lips. “Two old men in a room.”

Whitestone laughed. The men finished their coffee. Seth replaced his facemask and waited for Whitestone to do the same.

“That detective is older than you,” Whitestone said.

“More miles,” Seth said.

Seth gave Whitestone a long look.

“When I was a kid, I used to spend my weekends playing at the swing clubs in New York City,” Seth said.

“Big Daddy,” Whitestone said, softly, as if he didn’t want anyone to hear.

“I took jazz lessons from his father-in-law,” Seth said, not willing to give up the name of his mentor to the police detectives behind the mirrored glass.

Whitestone’s indicated that he knew who Seth was referring to.

“I spent a lot of my youth in those clubs,” Seth said.

“You can’t charge me for the swing club,” Whitestone said. “Or selling alcohol. They aren’t crimes any longer.”

“Murder,” Seth said. “You’re here for murdering your wife as well as another male, Mrs. Jones and a child.”

“Fair enough,” Whitestone said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Thirty-nine - Building (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-NINE

(part two)

William’s thumb moved over the engraving as if he were caressing soft skin.

“It’s on the rings, too,” Bernie said.

When William looked up, tears were streaming down his face. Bernie nodded.

“We may have more of your possessions. It will take some time,” Bernie said. “But I wanted to get this to you as soon as we knew they was yours.”

William had opened the watch again.

“Your great-great-grandfather made that watch,” Bernie said. “He signed it inside the instrumentation. We had it cleaned and a new timing coil put in so that it will work. I thought you should have it, especially during this challenging time.”

William gave Bernie a nod. Bernie grinned at the son of his old lawyer.

Bernie stood up from his seat and left the room. He nodded to the young woman at the front and left the office. He was in the elevator when his cellphone rang.

“Thank you,” William croaked. “My father is crying his eyes out. Right now. These are his parents’ rings.”

“Yes,” Bernie said. “They are.”

“Your granddaughter is Sandy Delgado?” William asked.

“Seth’s child with Andy Mendy,” Bernie said.

“I was going to say that she looks so much like Andy,” William said. “I looked her up. Your granddaughter. What a beautiful person.”

“She’s amazing,” Bernie said. “This effort of hers could use some help.”

“Donations?” William asked.

“Assistance distributing the items, determining their authenticity,” Bernie said. “And, between you and me, more than a few of your father’s friends are acting like jackasses. One of his friends is suing her for not giving him his item long before he or she knew it even exited! Is that how we deal with people now? No patience, no trust — just bring in the lawyers to harass someone who’s done you a favor.”

“I’ll take care of it,” William said. “You can’t imagine what this means to us. Thank you.”

“And it’s our pleasure,” Bernie said.

“Let me know if you need anything else,” William said. “Anything at all. As it is, you’ll take possession of the buildings by five tonight.”

“Thank you,” Bernie said, but William had gone.

Grinning at himself, Bernie left the building. He found Maresol where he’s left her.

“How did it go?” Maresol asked, standing.

“Much screaming,” Bernie said.

“Yes, I saw that,” Maresol said, as she tucked her hand into his arm. “How do you think he keeps his face so still while he spews such hate?”

“No idea,” Bernie said.

“I think he’s the devil,” Maresol said. “A demon at the very least.”

“Could be,” Bernie said. “We did just give him a very, very bad day.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...