Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-seven : Aftermath (part three)


(part three)

“I came to apologize to my daughter,” Lilith said. “Before you say it, I know that she … that I … I wanted to tell her that she was right to be angry with me and that I’d hoped she would find happiness. The man …”

Lilith partially turned to gesture outside the room.

“He said that Tiffanie is in New York City,” Lilith said. “With friends?”

Heather nodded.

“She always wanted to go,” Lilith said. “Ever since she was a child and her father …”

Lilith swallowed hard.

“You know what?” Lilith asked. “I would love some tea. And water.”

Heather blinked at the woman. She had the feeling that this woman was planning something. Heather hoped that she could figure out what exactly that was. Heather looked at Blane, and he nodded. He left the room. Lilith went back to the chair and sat down. Blane returned almost immediately with a tray. Delphie followed behind him carrying a pitcher of water. Delphie gave Heather a wink and left the room.

“She had it all ready,” Blane said.

He took a plate of blueberry scones off the tray and offered one to Lilith. He poured three cups of fragrant tea.

“Gosh, that smells amazing,” Lilith said.

“It’s a blend that our friend Abi brings from the Isle of Man,” Heather said.

“Fin makes it,” Blane said. “He made the scones, too.”

“Her partner,” Heather said. “The tea is very uplifting, especially when you’re not feeling well. We’ve been drinking it non-stop.”

Lilith held the cup to her nose to take in the aroma.

“Why aren’t you feeling well?” Lilith asked.

“Our son was just murdered by a metal object inserted into his brain,” Heather said.

“So you know,” Lilith said.

“Know?” Blane asked.

“How I feel,” Lilith said.

“If you mean that someone else’s decisions have destroyed someone you loved,” Heather said. Lilith’s head went up and down in a nod. “Then …”

“I suppose we do,” Blane said.

They drank their tea and scones with sweet honey butter. Heather and Blane watched the magic of the tea and scones work on Lilith. When she sat back, she seemed brighter and happier.

“I have done some really awful things,” Lilith said. “I … lost my way.”

“We’ve both had that experience,” Blane said. “The real question is what are you going to do about it now?”

Lilith looked at Blane, and then at Heather. She gave a slight nod and picked up her purse. Before they could respond, Lilith took a small handgun from her purse and pointed it at her temple.

“No!” Blane and Heather screamed and jumped toward her.

They were too late. Tink and Chet’s mother shot herself through the temple. Having sensed the threat of the weapon, Abi rushed into the room. She touched the woman’s cheek and then her forehead.

“Her name was Lilith,” Heather whispered.

Abi put her hand on the chest. She shook her head at Blane and Heather. Jacob and Delphie came in.

Blane grabbed Heather, and they moved to a corner of the room. Neither Blane nor Heather would remember anything more from that day.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-seven : Aftermath (part two)


(part two)

“We couldn’t afford the hospital bill and …” Lilith said in a rush of words.

She clamped her mouth closed. For a moment, they stared at each other.

“How did you …?” Lilith asked.

“A little bit at a time,” Blane said. “The hospital worked out a payment plan for us. Of course, Tink has medical insurance now so that has covered most of the follow up.”

“We had some help from Victim’s Services,” Heather said.

Heather and Blane looked at each other and nodded. Lilith didn’t respond.

“I shouldn’t have come,” Lilith said.

“And, yet, you did,” Heather said. Adding strength to her words, Heather demanded, “Why are you here?”

“I had a dream,” Lilith said. “About Chet and … I … felt …”

Lilith’s hands went to her chest again.

“In the dream, he was whole,” Lilith said. “Beautiful. Pure.”

“And gay?” Blane asked.

Lilith’s eyes flicked to Blane’s face.

“Yes, yes, I guess so,” Lilith said.

“I bet he would have loved to hear you say that he was beautiful or pure when he was alive,” Heather said.

“I’m sure you’re right,” Lilith said. “That’s why I had to come.”

“You threw him out of the house,” Heather said, without disguising her frustration for this woman. “You told him that you never wanted to see him again, that it was better if he just died! He died believing that you thought that he should no longer live. And that place! We’ve know that you sent him there.”

“For him to get back to Christ!” Lilith said.

“Right, the man who spent all his time with thirteen other men,” Blane said pointedly.

Lilith grabbed her bag and stood up. She marched to the door and stood with her back to them.

“Everything you’re saying is true,” Lilith said. “I disowned my daughter because I believed that she deserved what she got from those … boys. I sent son to the Christian Conversion Camp in order have the gay …”

Lilith stopped talking.

“Tortured out of him?” Blane asked in a smooth even tone.

Lilith shook her head.

“You honestly think that we’ll believe that you didn’t know exactly what they do there?” Heather asked.

Something about Heather’s words caused Lilith to spin around. She glared at Heather for a moment before nodding.

“I knew what they’d do,” Lilith said.

“Then why would you possibly care that he’s dead?” Blane asked.

“He will never get to Christ now!” Lilith said.

“No, that’s you who will never get to Christ,” Blane said with a snort. “Allow your son to be tortured? Tell your daughter she deserved being gang raped nearly to death? Wish the death of your own flesh and blood — do you honestly think this is what your Christ asked of you?”

The woman stared at Blane for a moment. Her mouth opened and closed, and then she shook her head. She shot Heather a pleading look but Heather shook her head.

“Don’t look to me to understand,” Heather said.

The woman nodded her head and turned to go.

“Why did you come here?” Heather demanded.

Lilith turned around.

“I came to apologize to my daughter,” Lilith said. “Before you say it, I know that she … that I … I wanted to tell her that she was right to be angry with me and that I’d hoped she would find happiness. The man …”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-seven : Aftermath (part one)


(part one)

Tuesday early morning — 6:31 a.m. MT

“Can we get you some coffee?” Blane asked. “Tea?”

Heather gestured for the woman to sit in an armchair. She sat down on the edge of the chair and shook her head. Rather than meet their eyes, she bowed her head and stared at her hands which were clasped on her lap.

“No, no, really,” the woman said.

Heather and Blane sat down on the couch across from her.

“I can’t imagine what you think of me,” the woman said.

“First,” Blane said. “We know who you are but we don’t know your name.”

“Tiffany has never spoken of me?” the woman’s voice cracked with emotion.

“She calls you ‘Mom’,” Heather said. “Or ‘my mom.’ Since we adopted her, she calls you her ‘birth mother.’”

The woman’s head moved in a nod. Even though they couldn’t see her face, it was clear that the woman was crying.

“Lilith,” the woman said, softly. She dared to look up for a moment. “My name is Lilith.”

“Nice to meet you,” Blane said. “I am Blane, and this is my wife, Heather.”

Lilith’s red, running eyes took in Blane before turning to Heather. The woman’s hands went instinctively crossed her throat. She nodded at them and then looked down.

“What can we do for you?” Heather asked, in a manner that she thought was kind.

Blane’s eyes suggested that she might have been kinder. Heather shrugged, and Blane nodded that he understood.

“Do you … uh …” Lilith stopped talking. She swallowed hard. Fumbling, she retrieved a tissue from her bag. “Do you know who Lilith is?”

“She is often seen as a demon by many Christian sects,” Heather said. “In Judaism, she’s known as the first wife of Adam, made at the same time as he was and from the same earth.”

“First woman,” Blane said under his breath.

Heather nodded to him at the same time the woman in front of them nodded.

“I’ve had dreams,” Lilith said. “All of my life.”

“Dreams?” Blane asked.

“They mostly come true,” Lilith said. “But … I haven’t had a dream for a long, long time.”

Thinking she would continue, Heather and Blane didn’t respond. A minute dragged into five minutes and Blane shrugged at Heather.

“Asleep?” Heather whispered.

“Embarrassed,” the woman in front of them said, softly.

When she looked up, they could see the fire that their daughter Tink held. She looked into Blane and Heather’s faces for cruelty but found none.

“Why did you come?” Blane asked softly.

“I came to see my daughter,” Lilith said.

“But you don’t have a daughter,” Blane said in the same soft, kind voice. “In fact, I believe you told her that no daughter of yours would allow those boys to use her so horribly.”

The woman winced at the repetition of her own words.

“You told her that you didn’t have a daughter,” Blane said. “In the hospital — while she was near death, I might add — you made certain that she, and everyone in hearing range, knew for absolute certain that you do not have a daughter.”

“We couldn’t afford the hospital bill and …” Lilith said in a rush of words.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-six : Hearts (part six)


(part six)

Tuesday early morning — 6:23 a.m. MT

Denver, Colorado

“What are you doing?” Mike asked Valerie.

She was standing in the closet that held the Castle security equipment. Valerie was chewing on a piece of dry toast and watching the video monitor for the metal gate.

“Planning your escape?” Mike asked.

He put his arms around her waist and kissed her neck.

“There’s a woman,” Valerie said.

She gestured to the video camera. Mike leaned in. A woman was standing near the walking entrance to the security gate. She pressed the buzzer to the house.

“That’s the third time she’s rang,” Valerie said.

“Are you going to answer?” Mike asked.

“I don’t know,” Valerie said. “I mean, who is she?”

“How will you know if you don’t answer?” Mike asked.

Valerie scowled at him. She was about to take a bite of her toast before she shrugged.

“I hate this toast,” Valerie said.

“Of course you do,” Mike laughed. “Why don’t you get something else and I’ll talk to the mystery lady.”

Valerie thought about it for a moment before leaving the security closet. Mike watched the woman for a moment before pressing a button.

“What’s up?” Mike asked.

“Oh,” the woman said. She looked up in the camera. “Is someone there?”

The paparazzi drifted in the woman’s direction.

“What can I help you with?” Mike asked.

“I wanted to come inside,” the woman said.

“Why?” Mike asked.

The woman looked at the paparazzi and then back at the camera.

“You go into the closet?” Jacob asked Mike.

“That joke wasn’t funny when you first told it,” Mike said.

Jacob laughed. Mike grinned.

“There’s a woman here who wants to come inside,” Mike said.

“We all want something,” Jacob said. “Listen, Val’s threatening to feed us those gross protein pancakes. You’ve got to get in there.”

Nodding, Mike scooted by Jacob and Jacob went into the closet. He looked at the woman before pressing the button to talk to her.

“Are you here by yourself?” Jacob asked.

The woman nodded.

“I’m going to come out and let you inside,” Jacob said.

The woman nodded. Jacob grabbed a jacket and left the house. He went to the gate and let the woman inside. They walked to the door in silence.

“We’re just about to have breakfast,” Jacob said, and opened the door.

“I wanted to see Tiffney,” the woman said.

“I know,” Jacob said. “ She’s not here.”

“When will she be back?” the woman asked.

“I’m not sure,” Jacob said.

“Can I talk to those …” the woman said and then stopped talking.

“Blane and Heather would love to talk to you,” Jacob said.

The woman nodded. Blane came up the stairs from the basement. Seeing the woman, he stopped short.

“She just wants to talk,” Jacob said.

Nodding, Blane said, “We’d like that. Why don’t you come with me?”

Blane led the woman into the side room off the main Castle living room. Coming in from the kitchen, Heather followed him inside. She slid the door closed.

“Who is that?” Mike asked.

“Tink’s mother,” Jacob said.

The men stared at the closed door. Not wanting to give voice to their thoughts, they glanced at each other and continued on with their morning.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-six : Hearts (part five)


(part five)

Tanesha’s mouth opened and closed.

Just yesterday — was it really only yesterday? — Tanesha had told Yvonne that she needed a manicure. It was one of the reminders that Tanesha had to give her mother. Yvonne never remembered how her nails got manicured or where to get them done. Yvonne would cry, scream, and completely melt down when her nails broke. This was something that had been true about Yvonne since her brain injury.

Tanesha noticed that her mother’s friends’ were now nodding in agreement to something. Tanesha filled a water pitcher and brought it to the table.

“What is this?” Tanesha asked under her breath.

“Zoe fixed your mother’s brain injury,” Delphie said. “She certainly is capable of it.”

“She what?” Tanesha asked.

“That’s what we think,” Dionne said.

Tanesha looked up at her beautiful mother. Yvonne was humming to herself and setting out plates. She turned to finish cooking the bacon and was checking on the eggs. Feeling Tanesha’s eyes, Yvonne looked up at her daughter.

Tanesha blinked.

Tanesha’s deepest dream had come true. This morning, her mother was moving around the kitchen as if nothing had happened. Her mother could remember a recipe or something that happened yesterday. This morning, her mother was whole, healed, and safe.

Unable to handle her own emotions, Tanesha turned in place and ran out of the kitchen. She got as far as the bench in Yvonne’s garden before she dropped to the ground. Tanesha cried for the person her mother had been. She cried for the injured woman who lived as a sex slave. She cried for her own loss of a mother. She cried for all the things that could have been, should have been.

A brown pair of slippers appeared before her water blind eyes. Tanesha looked up and saw only the bright sun. Her mother’s face shaded hers.

“I was trying to play it off,” Yvonne said. She gave Tanesha a soft smile. “You know, pretend that I didn’t remember yesterday or all of the yesterdays. The wall in our bedroom. Your face when you’d walk down the cement path at the spider’s.”

Yvonne held her hand out. Tanesha took her hand and let Yvonne help her up.

“I don’t know what’s happened,” Yvonne said. “I don’t even know how long it’ll last. But right now, I feel remember it all — everything good and all of the horrible. Mostly, I remember you, my precious girl. I remember you as a baby, such a beautiful child, and then later, when you had to care for me. I remember how much you loved me — day in and day out. No matter what happened, you were there. My precious girl.”

Tanesha hugged her mother tight.

“Now,” Yvonne said and patted Tanesha’s shoulder. “How does that juicer work? I remember that your father loves his fresh juice, has it every day, but I don’t know how to make it work or even where it is!”

Tanesha laughed. Yvonne dried Tanesha’s tears with the edge of her robe sleeve. They hooked elbows and went inside.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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