Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-three : Damaged (part two)


(part two)

“What can we do?” Heather asked.

“Nothing, really,” Nelson said. “Make sure he doesn’t hurt himself and stays breathing.”

They held the boy between them until Jill arrived. Jill dropped to the boy’s head.

“What is she going to do?” Nelson asked.

“She’s a healer,” Blane said. “Mike, too.”

“Healer?” Nelson asked.

“She’s good at getting an idea of what’s going on,” Blane said.

Jill fell silent as she focused on Chet’s brain.

“His brain is tearing apart,” Jill said. She opened her eyes and looked up at Nelson. “Is that even possible?”

“What do you mean?” Nelson asked.

“This is something …” Jill fell silent again.

After a few minutes, Chet stopped seizing. Noelle came running from the front where she’d let the ambulance in. When the medics dropped down to work on Chet, Blane, Nelson, and Jill got up. They stood to the side while the medics worked.

“What was that you were saying?” Blane asked in a low voice.

“This is the second time he’s had a seizure like this, right?” Jill asked.

“That we know of,” Heather said.

“I don’t think they’re seizures,” Jill said.

“What do you mean?” Nelson asked.

Jill’s eyes flicked to Nelson. She looked at him for a moment before registering who he was. She shook her head by way of apology.

“I don’t really know what I mean,” Jill said. “It’s like … something’s causing it, maybe an implant or …”

Jill shrugged.

“You’re saying that something is triggering these episodes,” Nelson said.

“He never had them when we were kids,” Tink said.

“What causes this kind of thing?” Heather asked.

“Traumatic brain injury, certainly,” Nelson said. “You said he was in a conversion therapy center?”

“Was it …?” The medic’s question included the name of the treatment center Chet had been in.

Blane, Heather, and Tink nodded.

“Why?” Blane asked.

“We’ve seen this before,” the medic said.

“He’s going to be okay right?” Tink asked in a soft, watery voice.

The medic looked at Tink, squinted, and didn’t respond. They got Chet on the stretcher and started across the grass.

“I’m going to …” Nelson pointed to the ambulance.

Blane and Heather looked at each other.

“I’ll go,” Blane said.

“We’ll be right behind you,” Heather said. Calling after Blane, she added, “Where are you going?”

Blane asked Nelson and turned back to her.

“Denver Health,” Blane said.

“We’ll meet you there,” Heather said.

Charlie pulled Tink away from Heather and Delphie came to give Heather a big hug. They stood there until the ambulance left.

“Denver Health?” Jacob asked. “Mike and I can take the kids if you’d like to go.”

Jill looked at Jacob and he gave her an assuring nod. Heather gave them a worried look.

“Edie and Valerie are here,” Jacob said. “Delphie can go with you.”

Delphie nodded to Jacob.

“Come on, let’s get cleaned up,” Delphie said, in a solemn voice.

The adults started to head into the house. Jill paused at Jacob.

“You know something,” Jill said.

“I saw what you saw,” Jacob said.

“And?” Jill asked.

Rather than respond, Jacob shook his head. Reading his gesture, Jill nodded.

“Let me know how you are and how it’s going,” Jacob said.

“I will,” Jill said.

After a few minutes, the cars pulled out for the hospital. Jacob, Mike, and Aden stood in the middle of the garden. Edie and Abi came from the house to play with the kids.

“Shall we finish up?” Fin asked.

Mike gave a maniacal laugh, and the men started to dig.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-three : Damaged (part one)


(part one)

Sunday afternoon — 1:43 p.m.

“Who’s that?” Chet asked his sister, Tink.

“Uh,” Tink looked up from the chess game she was playing with Aden on the picnic table in the Castle backyard.

Chet pointed to a man talking to Heather. They were hanging out at the Castle this afternoon for a barbeque. It was time to take in the last of the summer harvest and turn the beds over before winter. Jacob and Mike were in the middle of a battle for who could turn over the beds best and fastest. Delphie stood in the grass as the judge. Sandy, Jill, and Valerie were making jam in the kitchen with Noelle and Candi’s eldest ward, Kimber. The younger children were playing near the back fence while the adults were in groups talking and laughing.

Aden moved a piece on the board and Tink’s attention returned to the board.

“The guy?” Chet asked.

Tink looked where Chet was pointing.

“That’s a friend of Blane’s,” Tink said. “He works with Ava, you know Seth’s wife? You’ve met her. She was over a couple nights ago for dinner.”

Chet watched Nelson talk to Heather. Blane walked over to them carrying three bottles of beer. He gave one to Heather and then Nelson before opening his. They were smiling and drinking beer.

“Blane’s gay,” Chet said.

His words caused both Tink and Aden to look up at him in surprise.

“I told you that,” Tink said.

“What about Heather?” Chet asked.

“Like all relationships, Heather and Blane have made their own rules to their relationship,” Aden said evenly. “They went into this with their eyes open.”

“But Blane’s gay!” Chet said.

“They are the most honest people I know,” Aden said. “You should ask them about it.”

“But they have kids,” Chet said.

“And?” Tink asked. “Gay people have kids. The biology works.”

“But what about…?” Chet asked.

He shook his head in irritation and walked away from them.

“What’s that about?” Aden asked.

“No idea,” Tink said. “Why did you make that move?”

Aden opened his mouth to explain, but Chet didn’t hear the answer. Chet strode away from his sister. He wasn’t sure why but he felt anxious and very angry. He walked over to where Blane, Nelson, and Heather were standing.

“So you’re gay?” Chet asked Blane. He gestured to Nelson. “This guy surely is.”

Chet sneered in Nelson’s direction. Nelson chuckled, and Chet threw himself at Nelson. Chet punched and hit at Nelson, who easily avoided his punches. Blane grabbed Chet from behind, and pulled him off of Nelson. Jacob and Mike ran over. Blane wrapped himself around Chet in a safety hold. Chet raged and snarled like an animal. Jacob held out a hand to Nelson and he jumped up. Tink and Aden ran down from the deck.

Chet kicked and writhed against Blane. Without warning, his eyes rolled backwards and he began to foam at the mouth. Heather took a step toward them, and Chet began to seize. Blane gently let him down onto the soft grass where Chet went into a full blown grand mal.

“Get Jill!” Mike yelled to Delphie.

“Nash!” Heather yelled. “Call 9-1-1!”

“Got it,” Nash said from where he and Teddy were wrapping the tree trunks with protective paper.

Delphie ran toward the kitchen. Charlie took off from where he was picking blackberries. Charlie made it to the kitchen first. A few minutes later, Jill came running from the kitchen. Heather grabbed Tink to keep her from throwing herself at her brother. Tink wrapped herself around Heather and began to cry.

“I’m a doctor,” Nelson said, rolling up his sleeves.

“PhD?” Blane asked.

“Medical, Emergency Medicine,” Nelson said, dropping down to his knees next to Chet. “It’s a long story.”

“What can we do?” Heather asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-two : Ready (part six)


(part six)

“Why do I have to live with the consequences when they started it?” Noelle asked.

“Abi is saying that they believe that you started it,” Delphie said.

Noelle’s head jerked to look at Delphie.

“How did I start it?” Noelle asked. “I didn’t do anything!”

“How would this girl think that you started it?” Sandy asked.

Noelle looked at Sandy and blinked.

“Just for fun,” Sandy said. “What might she think?”

“She might think that Noelle was a show off,” Katy said. “Because she’s so good.”

“Right,” Delphie said. “Teacher’s pet.”

“I was,” Noelle acknowledged.

“You remember how everyone was really invested in what other people thought?” Aden asked.

“Like who was the best and stuff,” Noelle said with a nod. “I didn’t like it that they said I was the best because there were other people who were good, but different. Now that I work with Mike, I wish that I had paid more attention to what the different people were doing. I would have learned more.”

“Exactly,” Aden said.

“What do I have to do?” Katy asked.

“Now that you know all about Scott’s life and his heart break, how do you feel about him?” Jacob asked.

“About Scott?” Katy asked. She looked at her father for a moment before she shrugged. “I don’t know. Just because things have been hard for him doesn’t mean he has to be such a jerk.”

“What if he doesn’t know that?” Jacob asked.

“Well …” Katy said. “I guess I could tell him when he’s being a jerk. What about him trying to kill his mom?”

“We’ve already talked to his mother and the police,” Jacob said with finality.

“I called the morning after you had the vision,” Jill said. “It turned out that they already knew that Scott had tried to hurt his mother. Scott is now seeing someone who can help him with all of this.”

“So I don’t have to do everything?” Katy asked.

“You just have to be Katy,” Jill said.

“I can do that,” Katy said.

“But he’s going to hurt Katy again!” Noelle said.

“Maybe he will,” Jill said. “We’ll be here if she has trouble again. If we protect her like a baby …”

“I’m not a baby!” Katy said.

Jacob raised an eyebrow and nodded.

“I wouldn’t mind if you fixed this for me!” Noelle said.

Aden rolled his eyes and fell back into his chair.

“I can do it,” Sandy said, imitating Noelle. “You guys think that I’m a little fragile princess but I’m strong!”

“Not about this!” Noelle said.

“Then we learn how to deal with this,” Sandy said. “You’re a girl who watched her sister get shot, right in front of you. You’ve survived the craziness of an addicted mother. You’ve lived in New York City. You went through that horrible fight in City Park …”

“I fought back and even testified,” Noelle said. “That guy’s never going to get out.”

“How do you bring this fierceness to the situation with this girl?” Delphie asked.

Noelle scowled and looked down for a moment.

“What about Rachel?” Noelle asked.

“I was just going to be me,” Rachel said with a shrug. “He doesn’t have to be nice to me, but I am a nice girl. So I’m nice.”

Rachel nodded. Once again, the little girl had charmed the adults completely. When Abi took a breath, they turned to look at her.

“We cannot abandon these troubled kids just because they have behaved poorly,” Abi said. “We have too much in common to be separate from each other. It’s not easy but it’s really not as hard as living with the curse that you are good and they are bad.”

“I also want to say to each of you,” Sandy said, “we are here for you. We want to know how it goes. This is hard stuff that we weren’t able to figure out when we were young. Let us help if you get stuck. Let us know about your triumphs and failures. We’ll all learn something.”

“There are plenty of unpleasant adults in the world,” Aden said.

“When you’re able to see that everyone is on the same team, things go a lot differently,” Abi said.

“I can do it,” Rachel said with a smile.

Katy nodded in agreement.

“Oh, okay,” Noelle said in a mopey voice. “I’ll try. Can I go now?”

“Sure,” Aden said.

The kids got up and left the room. For a moment, the adults sat still.

“When did Noelle become a teenager?” Jacob asked.

Everyone laughed.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-two : Ready (part five)


(part five)

“Yes, you’re right,” Aden said. “It totally escaped the attention of the elementary school bullies that my entire family packed up and left me.”

Everyone nodded. The look on Delphie’s face indicated that she’d had much worse than what they’d described. Delphie squinted and looked at Abi.

“I think what we’re saying kids is that we’ve been there,” Delphie said.

The adults nodded.

“What if I told you that the kids who did this to you believed they were doing the right thing,” Abi said.

“For their selfish reasons,” Jill said.

“Matbe,” Abi said. “Sandy, didn’t the man you thought was your father tell you he was doing it for your own good?”

“Yeah, but he was lying,” Sandy said. “He was doing it for himself.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Abi said. “People in power always justify their actions.”

“You mean that this Scott the Snot justifies what he does to Katy because he’s in power?” Jill asked.

“Or he thinks that Katy has all the power,” Abi said with a nod. “He’s trying to take it away from her.”

“I’d never do that to anyone!” Noelle said. “That’s like the stuff that Nuala does.”

“What’s a Nuala?” Abi asked.

“Noelle’s birth mother,” Aden said.

Abi scowled. She raised her right hand. Her fingers moved as if she was tickling the air. The air sparked every time her finger tips hit the tip of her thumb. After a moment, she moved as if she was throwing something into the middle of the room. A line made out of blue-grey light appeared in the air. It slid across and doubled into two lines. The two lines doubled again until box of blue-grey light floated in the air. One side of the box dropped and the box doubled itself. As soon there were six sides to the box, it grew. The box was seven or eight inches long when Rachel pointed.

“Someone’s inside!” Rachel said.

They leaned forward. The box grew and grew until it was about ten feet high and ten feet wide. A woman paced back and forth inside the box.

“That’s Nuala,” Noelle said.

“She looks happy,” Abi said wryly.

They watched Nuala pace back and forth as if she was imprisoned by the box.

“We live in a ‘cause and effect’ world,” Abi said. “I do this and that happens. This means that Nuala, Scott, the boy in Rachel’s class, and this girl who hurt Noelle — they have to live with the consequences of what they’ve done in their lives. That’s a law of this world. That’s just how life works.”

Abi smiled at Rachel.

“This is a little bit much for our Rachel,” Abi said.

“Katy will teach me,” Rachel said.

She was little and so sweet that everyone smiled.

“But what do we do?” Noelle asked. “What am I going to do?”

“Whatever you do, you will have to live with the consequences of those actions,” Abi said.

Noelle scowled.

“Why do I have to live with the consequences when they started it?” Noelle asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Seventy-two : Ready (part four)


(part four)

“Is that true?” Abi asked.

“No,” Aden said. “This happened at the after school art program Noelle was in. It was really cliquey. It was supposed to be the best in the city, but it was really a mess. The mothers were all having affairs and the men were … If anyone knew that this girl’s mother was a lesbian, they would have chucked the child out of the school.”

“She wasn’t a very good artist,” Noelle mumbled. “They were always threatening to kick her out.”

“Oh really?” Sandy asked. “Who was the best there?”

“Me,” Noelle said.

“Huh,” Sandy said.

“What’s ‘huh’ mean?” Katy looked at Jill to ask.

“Auntie Sandy is reminding Noelle that people who are the best often get harassed,” Jill said.

“You mean like Scott?” Katy asked.

“Like Scott,” Jill said.

“Scott sees how strong you are Katy,” Abi said. “Think of what you have in common — both of your fathers are dead by gunshot wounds caused by their own actions. Yet here you are — happy, loved, the daughter of Jacob Marlowe.”

“Who the school was named after,” Jill said.

“And Mama Celia,” Katy said with a nod.

“Who is also a Marlowe?” Jill asked.

Katy pointed to herself. The little girl scowled.

“Understanding doesn’t help much, does it?” Delphie asked.

Katy, Noelle, and Rachel nodded.

“What does help?” Sandy asked the room and then turned to look at Abi. “I mean, I have situations from elementary school that bug me to this day. Tanesha had a whole bunch of this crap come up when she was taking her finals just a few weeks ago.”

“I have had it come up for me,” Jill nodded.

“Mommy?” Katy asked.

“Just stuff that happened after I came back from Costa Rica,” Jill said.

“A couple of kids said that her parents hated her so they didn’t come back,” Sandy said.

Jill looked at Sandy and then said, “That mom called social services on Meg and Mike, remember when I didn’t have snack on the day that was my day. Meg had like three jobs. Mike worked with Sam and went to high school.”

“They forgot,” Sandy nodded.

“That was a mess,” Jill said, and looked down at her hands. “I don’t know what I’d do if I saw that mom again. Even now. All these years later and …”

Jill gestured around at the Castle.

“It still hurts,” Jill said and touched her heart. “So, I get it.”

“I think we all do,” Jacob said, with a nod.

“Oh seriously, when did the rich Marlowe ever have social problems?” Sandy asked as a kind of joke but it was clear that she was serious.

“Oh you mean how cool it was that my father was pussified by my bitch mother?” Jacob asked. “Or maybe my family business was literally shit?”

Sandy wrinkled her nose and grimaced.

“Ow,” Katy said. “That’s not very nice, Daddy.”

Sandy and Jill looked at Aden and Jacob glanced in his direction.

“Yes, you’re right,” Aden said. “It totally escaped the attention of the elementary school bullies that my entire family packed up and left me.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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