Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Chapter Four Hundred and Eighty-six : Spies (part one)


(part one)

“Whatever you do, do not go to Russia,” the man said.

Surprised, Sissy jumped back, but the man held on.

“They want to get back at him,” the man said. “They want to make him pay.”

Sissy leaned back from the man.

“They will kill you, torture you, little girl, just to get back at him,” the man said.

“Who?” Sissy asked. She said Otis’s real name.

The man looked surprised and a little frightened that Sissy knew Otis. He shook his head.

“This whole thing has been a ploy to get you to go there,” the man said.

“What whole thing?” Sissy asked.

“Interview at ballet schools,” the man said. “It is all a set up.”

“What?” Sissy asked.

“They were at your school in New York when you did your performance,” the man said. “They saw him and realized they could make him suffer for all they believe he’s done.”

“Who?” Sissy asked.

“Ivan,” the man said. “You are the only thing he loves; you will suffer greatly.”

The man’s face moved right in front of Sissy’s.

Do not go to Russia.” The man’s voice was so intense and intimidating that she was genuinely terrified of him.

He let go of her elbow, almost throwing it at her.

“You tell the Fey that that the calves are baying at the sun,” the man said with a nod.

“Who?” Sissy asked a little too quickly.

He snorted at her response. Turning in place, he raced down the hallway. Before Sissy could react, he was down the stairs.

Sissy stood in the hallway watching after him for a moment. After a moment, she went and knocked on the door to Jammy’s room. He didn’t answer. She knocked a little harder. When he didn’t answer again, she remembered that he’d told her that he wore ear plugs to sleep. He told her to call him if she needed something. He wore a watch that buzzed when his private phone rang.

Sissy went back into her room and closed the door. Picking up her cellphone, she looked at the face for a long time. She pressed a button.

“Fey,” a woman’s voice said.

“I’m in trouble,” Sissy said. “Some guy just came and told me not to go to Russia. He said that my interviews with ballet schools was a set up to get me to Russia where I would be tortured and killed to get back at Ivan. He told me that the calves are baying at the sun.”

“Really?” the woman asked. “Huh. Are you safe at your location?”

“Yes,” Sissy said. “I’m in my room.”

“Lock your door. Check that your windows are locked,” the woman said. “Do it now.”

Sissy got up to do what she was told.

“Everything’s locked up,” Sissy said.

“Wait where you are,” the woman said. “Do not use your phone. Call no one. Do not — under any circumstances — open the door unless you see someone you know by name. Repeat it back to me.”

“I won’t use my phone for anything. I won’t call anyone. I won’t open the door unless someone I know by name knocks on the door,” Sissy said. “But what if they are the ones behind this? The man said this whole trip was designed to get me to Russia. That means the ballet schools, Jammy, almost anyone could be in on it!”

“Point taken,” the woman said. “Do not open the door to anyone involved in ballet or Mr. Schmidt.”

The line went dead. Not sure of what to do next, Sissy sat down on her bed and waited.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Eighty-five : Imperfect (part six)


(part six)

“You have impressed everyone,” Ivan said. “I am not surprised. You are a brilliant light.”

Delighted and embarrassed at the same time, Sissy changed the subject away from herself.

“Are you excited for your classes tonight?” Sissy asked.

“Excited?” Ivan asked. Shaking his head, he said, “Nyet. It will be good to get started. We will see if this is a path for me. I have done ballet for so long that it’s very hard to imagine doing something else.”

“You are brave,” Sissy said.

Ivan blushed and shrugged off her compliment.

“We will see tonight,” Ivan said. “You did your stretches? Ate?”

“Jammy’s been really bossy,” Sissy said. “Eat now, sleep now, stuff like that. It’s good that I’m so used to getting bossed around.”

Ivan burst out laughing. Sissy grinned at him.

“It’s for your own good,” Ivan said in his defense.

Sissy laughed. With her laugh, she felt her energy start to fade.

“You will sleep?” Ivan asked.

Sissy nodded.

“Will you wake me when you get home from class?” Sissy asked.

“No, you need to sleep,” Ivan said. “All of this travel, new people, new places — it’s like ten ballets in one day. Very hard on the body. You must take good care or you will get sick or injured.”

“I will,” Sissy said with a smile at his concerns.

“Do call me when you get up,” Ivan said. “What is tomorrow’s schedule?”

“Breakfast at the Royal Ballet Company,” Sissy said. “Meet some my age who go there for school, tour the dorms, and then fly to Russia. I’m interviewing in Saint Petersburg tomorrow afternoon. The Bolshoi on Friday morning and then we come home!”

Sissy cheered and Ivan smiled.

“Enjoy every moment,” Ivan said. “These are once in a life time experiences that most people don’t ever get. You must soak up every little bit. And then, come home to me.”

“I will,” Sissy said.

Never effusive with his words, Ivan blushed nodded and said, “Go to sleep.”

The phone went dark. Sissy felt the instant let down of his absence. He’d been a near constant presence since she’d been shot. This was the longest they’d been apart since that time. She looked out across the room and wondered if she should watch television.

There was a knock at the door.

“Room service.” A muffled man’s voice came through the door.

Sissy got up and went to the door. She stepped aside as she’d seen Jammy do and allowed the man to roll the cart into the room.

“Where should I put?” the man asked in a thick Russian accent.

“Are you sure this is for me?” Sissy asked, in Russian. “I’ve already eaten.”

“Yes, yes,” the man said, in a bored, irritated voice. “Sign here.”

Sissy looked at the man. He had the bored and rushed demeanor of every room service person Sissy had seen on television. He wore all black like the woman who’d dropped off her dinner in Jammy’s room earlier. His hair hung in his face so she couldn’t see his eyes.

Sissy stepped next to the man. He opened the payment folder and gave her a pen. The pen was on the page when the man grabbed her elbow.

“Whatever you do, do not go to Russia,” the man said.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday…

Chapter Four Hundred and Eighty-five : Imperfect (part five)


(part five)

Wednesday evening — 10:26 p.m.

London, England

Sissy felt like she was high. The lack of sleep followed by the sheer chance to dance so much gave her this light headed feeling. Jammy had insisted that they return to their hotel at ten. He’d forced fed her almost an entire chicken and a huge salad. Sissy was too happy to fuss.

Jammy sent Sissy to her room. She’d taken a long bath to warm her body and then gone through the horribly hard stretching routine she did at home. She felt loose and happy. She’d already called Charlie, Tink, and Giovanni. They were nice to listen to all of her adventures — which were mostly doing what she was told, eating, and sleeping. Sissy showed them around her palatial room with its little sitting area and gas fireplace. They were as impressed as she. When she was done with the tour, they were excited to tell her about what she’d missed. Tink was enjoying her stay in New York City. Tink rattled off all of the places they’d gone and the amazing food she’d tried. Sissy couldn’t help but laugh at the girl’s Big Apple adventures. Tomorrow, they were going all the way up to the observation deck of One World Trade Center.

Sissy couldn’t help but feel a little envious of Tink’s adventures. Sissy had never had the chance to do that touristy stuff because she was either in school, in the hospital, or recovering. They promised to save some things for when Sissy got home on Saturday.

When Sissy hung up, she talked to Sandy. She showed Sandy around the hotel and then they talked about the hard stuff — did she like the programs? Would she want to stay there. Sissy was a little relieved when she only had a few minutes before Ivan was done with his class. She said goodbye to Sandy and changed into her pajamas. She was just pulling up her pajama bottoms when her phone rang. She pressed the video button and there he was!


Neither one of them said anything for a moment. She felt like her face would break from smiling. He looked at least twenty years younger, happy — no, joyful — just to see her. It was one of the most dramatic moments of Sissy’s entire life.

“Hi,” Sissy said finally.

“My love,” Ivan said. “I want to know every moment, everything, but, I will tell you that I have heard from many people both in Paris and London.”

“You have spies?” Sissy asked as a joke.

“No spies,” Ivan said with a solemn shake of his head. “People who know that you are …”

He blushed.

“You were joking,” Ivan said. He laughed at himself. “Of course.”

“They introduced themselves as having either worked with you or knowing of your work,” Sissy said. “I was really proud of you, just to know you. It was really great!”

Ivan squinted at her for a moment.

“What?” Sissy asked.

“Many women would feel threatened by …” Ivan said.

“You are a great dancer,” Sissy said. “I’d be a fool to be threatened by your fame or acclaim. I’m your biggest fan!”

Ivan gave her a rare genuine smile that took her breath away and made her heart flutter.

“You have impressed everyone,” Ivan said. “I am not surprised. You are a brilliant light.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Eighty-five : Imperfect (part four)


(part four)

“Abi has asked me if I will help Delphie with a problem,” Yvonne said.

“Abi?” Rodney asked. “Delphie?”

“Seems Delphie found something called the ‘Fire of Hell’ in Leadville,” Yvonne said. “I didn’t remember it, but apparently Blane saved her from this thing. They think it’s some kind of spell left from that man who held Delphie captive when she was a child.”

“Levi Johansen,” Rodney said.

“I don’t know his name,” Yvonne said. “I am sure I never met him.”

“You didn’t,” Rodney said.

“Anyway, Abi asked if I could help,” Yvonne said. “I wanted to check in with you and Tannie to see if you thought it would be okay.”

“You don’t need my permission to hang out with your friends,” Rodney said. “Or do anything, really.”

“I’m not asking for permission,” Yvonne said. “I’m asking what you think about it.”

Yvonne touched his chest.

“You know, inside,” Yvonne said.

Rodney nodded his understanding. He covered her hand with his own.

“Do you know anything else?” Rodney asked.

“I know that Abi talked to me and Maresol and Dionne,” Yvonne said. “Seth’s in New York, so Maresol is free. Dionne doesn’t want to be left out.”

“And this Fire of Hell?” Rodney asked.

“Seems like no one knows anything about them,” Yvonne said. “Did you know that Heather is a genuine Goddess from Greece?”

Rodney gave her a curt nod.

“Well, I just found out,” Yvonne said. “Heather says there’s a mention of this Fire of Hell in a few Greek histories but nothing of importance. And Abi was pregnant when Delphie found them again. She wasn’t able to go up until recently. Abi and her brother … do we know them?”

“Gilfand?” Rodney asked. He smiled at the simple wonder of Yvonne coming out of her fog. “We’ve met him a few times. He looks a little … gargoyle-ish.”

“Well, I don’t remember him,” Yvonne said. “So, according to Abi, the astrological signs are best in the next two weeks.”

Yvonne shrugged.

“What do you think?” Yvonne asked.

“It terrifies me,” Rodney said. “But Delphie and your friends have done so much for you, for us, I don’t think we can say ‘no.’”

“That’s what I mean,” Yvonne said. “We have to think about it tonight and decide. Abi wants to meet tomorrow morning to ‘make a battle plan’ — that’s what she said.”

Rodney nodded to Yvonne but didn’t otherwise respond. Yvonne knew that meant that he was thinking. She waited.

“Do you think she’s a fairy?” Yvonne asked.

“She’s not a fairy,” Rodney said.

“I wonder why I thought that,” Yvonne said.

“Her man is,” Rodney said.

“Fin?” Yvonne asked. “That makes sense. He’s my grandfather. Abi is my grandmother.”

“Yes they are,” Rodney said with a nod.

Yvonne gave him a sweet smile which made him grin. They stood silently grinning at each other for a moment.

“Why you?” Rodney said after clearing his throat.

“I don’t know,” Yvonne said. “But she said that it had to be me, more so than the others. I thought maybe it was because Delphie and I were in similar situations, you know, held captive by some jerk. Maybe I’ll know how to help her when the other girls don’t.”

“Good thinking,” Rodney said.

Yvonne patted his chest again.

“You think about it,” Yvonne said. “We’ll talk tonight.”

He kissed her again and she left his office. The young woman was long gone by the time Yvonne walked through again. She didn’t bother to say anything to the receptionist. Instead, she just left.

In the car, she wondered if the younger woman knew that she, Yvonne, had been a whore. Thoughts of doubt and guilt began to rise from inside her core. Yvonne shook her head.

“Oh, who cares?” Yvonne asked out loud. “I have too much going on to waste my brain thinking about that.”

Laughing to herself, she started the car and never gave the entire incident another thought.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Four Hundred and Eighty-five : Imperfect (part three)


(part three)

Wednesday evening — 4:16 p.m.

Denver, Colorado

“May I speak with Rodney Smith, please?” Yvonne asked the receptionist.

Rodney was running a large underground utility site that consisted of a small office and ten mobile unit sitting on an old parking lot. They were replacing the water lines in a residential neighborhood. Rather than bringing the mess and chaos of an entire job site, they were using the mobile units. Logistically, the site was a nightmare. Day to day, the site hummed like a well-oiled machine.

The receptionist looked up at Yvonne and raised her eyebrow.

“Who are you supposed to be?” the receptionist asked.

“Who am I …”Yvonne started. “What?”

“You can’t just walk in and speak to the boss,” the receptionist said.

Yvonne blinked at the young woman. Having had been severely mentally limited for such a long time, she felt like she missed an entire social “thing” where it was now fashionable to be rude to people.

“Why not?” Yvonne managed.

“He’s a busy man,” the receptionist said. She looked Yvonne up and down. “He doesn’t have time for … distractions.”

“Distractions?” Yvonne asked.

“Plus, he’s married,” the receptionist said. “I saw a whole thing about it on BET. She’s Miss T’s mother and she’s brain damaged.”

Yvonne blinked at the woman for a moment. Feeling movement, she turned around to see an older woman come into the trailer. The older woman walked with purpose toward the receptionist.

“Thanks for covering for me, Denise,” the woman said.

“This lady here says she wants to see the boss,” the young woman said with a sniff.

She looked at Yvonne and blinked.

“Mrs. Smith?” the older woman asked.

Yvonne nodded.

“Rodney told me you were feeling better,” the older woman said. “I don’t think I realized until …”

The older woman hit the younger woman lightly with the back of her hand.

“That’s Rodney’s wife,” the older woman said.

“Nah,” the younger woman said. “His wife isn’t right in the head.”

Yvonne squinted at the young woman.

“I’m sorry,” the older woman said. “This is my granddaughter. She was just covering for me while I used the restroom. She’s …”

“She’s right,” Yvonne said in a clear, calm voice. “For a long time, I wasn’t right in the head. But even when I was struggling, I’d never have been as rude as you’ve been.”

Yvonne blinked at the young girl.

“Ma’am, I’m so sorry,” the older woman said.

“You don’t need to be. But you …” Yvonne pointed to the young girl. “You’d better watch yourself. What you make fun of you become.”

Yvonne sniffed at the girl. For a moment, no one moved. The door opened to the office and Rodney looked out.

“Yvie?” Rodney asked. He looked at the young girl and then the older woman. “What’s going on here?”

“Nothing,” Yvonne said. Rodney’s eyes shot to the older woman. “Do you have a moment to speak with me?”

“Of course,” Rodney said. “Always.”

Rodney held the door open and gave the older woman a hard look. He closed the door behind Yvonne. He gave her a hug and kissed her lips.

“I’m sorry for …” Rodney gestured to the front.

“You don’t need to be sorry,” Yvonne said. “It’s just stuff that happens. I’m going to remember to ask Tannie why people are so rude these days.”

“Good question,” Rodney said.

“Anyway, I know you’re busy,” Yvonne said. “I wanted to ask you something and then ask you to think about it so we can talk when you get home.”

Rodney gave her a quick nod. He tried to keep his face impassive but he had yet to get over his simple joy at looking at his wife. Inside, his heart raced with joy.

“Abi has asked me if I will help Delphie with a problem,” Yvonne said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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