CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and FORTY-TWO
Friday afternoon — 4:35 p.m.
Nelson got off the 15 Colfax bus at Race Street and started toward their new home. When Ava and her team had a case, they worked long hours, sometimes all night. They were between cases due to Covid, so everyone left early. Nelson loved getting home early now that he had such a great home filled with so many people that he loved.
He took a deep breath. The days were getting longer and the weather was moving into summer warm. Tulips and daffodils lined his walk to their new home. He smiled.
He would check in on his father this evening before heading home. It was his turn to make dinner so he imagined himself grilling up some burgers for everyone on his new gas grill in their new gorgeous patio.
For the first time, in a very, very long time, he was truly happy.
Grinning under his N-95 mask, he continued down the sidewalk. His eyes noticed the burgeoning spring while his mind planned out what he’d do when he got home. When he turned back to the sidewalk, he saw what looked like a pile of clothing. He squinted, and then scowled.
“That’s. . .”
Nelson ran toward the pile of clothing while digging in his bag for a phone. He dropped down next to the body of his elderly next door neighbor, Mr. Matchel. Nelson touched the elderly man’s shoulder and Mr. Matchel groaned.
“Oh my God,” Nelson said, blowing out a breath. “You’re alive.”
“Hey!” Blane yelled from the front lawn of the Castle.
The paparazzi turned to take photos. Blane and Jacob ran across the street to where Nelson knelt.
“It’s Mr. Matchel,” Nelson said. “Our next door neighbor.”
“Let’s get him inside,” Blane said.
Before Nelson could move, Jacob picked up the elderly man and jogged down the path to the patio behind the house. Jacob set the elderly man on a bench and helped him sit up.
“What. . .?” Heather asked after sliding open the glass door to the patio.
“Go back inside,” Nelson said. “This is Covid.”
“I’m immortal?” Heather shrugged.
The men stared at her for a moment. She nodded.
“Maybe you should go inside while I figure this out,” Heather said.
Because she’d promised to always wear one, Heather grabbed a mask and went outside. The men went inside and stood next to the sliding glass window.
“Mr. Matchel?” Heather asked. She put her hand on his shoulder. “Mr. Matchel.”
The man’s eyes fluttered open. He looked up at her.
“We found you on the sidewalk,” Heather said.
“Need. . .” the elderly man said, “. . . help.”
“Are you ill?” Heather asked.
“Ask him to take a full breath!” Nelson yelled from inside the house.
“Can you take a full breath?” Heather asked.
The elderly man took a shaky breath. Heather looked at Nelson. Blane was starting outside. But Heather shook her head at him.
“When was the last time you ate?” Heather asked.
“They stopped my meals,” Mr. Matchel said. “I ran out of food a couple weeks ago. You kids told me that if I ever needed help. . . Took me a time to. . .”
“Do you think you need a hospital?” Heather asked.
“I don’t know,” Mr. Matchel said. “I was surprised at how weak I’ve become. I never would have thought that I. . .”
The elderly man closed his eyes and sighed. A tear rolled down his face.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...
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