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September 2021

Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-three - Safe, together (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-THREE

(part one)

Saturday evening — 5:15 p.m.

“So you’re in?” Teddy asked Sissy. “If you say ‘yes,’ I’m going to announce it.”

“Masks required,” Sissy said.

“Of course. We’re not idiots,” Teddy said. “But, you’re in, right?”

Sissy gave him a slight nod. She and Ivan were sitting at a table in the backyard. After a successful Harvest Day, people were milling around. Jacob and Mike were working the bar-be-cues on the back deck. Food was laid out on the tables on the deck. If people weren’t eating, they were wearing masks. The tables were set apart with only a few seats. Everyone was doing their best to keep each other safe.

Yes!” Teddy said, with a fish pump.

Teddy grabbed his phone and jogged to where Nash was standing. The boys cheered and rushed inside the Castle.

“Would you mind if I joined you?” a woman with long dark hair asked. “Seems like the tables are either full or filled with kids. I could use a quiet meal with adults. Do you mind?”

“Please,” Sissy said, gesturing to a chair at their table. “I’m Sissy Delgado. This is my fiancé, Ivan.”

“Jennifer Kearney,” the woman said with a smile. “I’m one of the Fey Wives.”

“Like Honey?” Sissy asked.

The woman nodded. She took a bite of potato salad.

“I love this stuff,” Jennifer said, gesturing to the potato salad. “Honey’s husband is on the current team. My husband, Dean, was on the original team.”

“He was a wonderful man,” Ivan said, softly. “So kind.”

Jennifer gave him a long look.

“Did you know my husband?” Jennifer asked.

Ivan nodded.

“They rescued me from the gulag,” Ivan said. “Charlie carried me out on his shoulder. Your husband kept me alive until we were out of Russia. He said to me, ‘The worst is over now. Nothing is going to be as bad as where you’ve been.’ I think of that often. He was accurate.”

Jennifer’s eyes welled with tears. She gave Ivan a quick nod and looked away to gather her emotions.

“He would have loved this,” Jennifer said with her face away from them. She turned back to assess Ivan. “Are you ill now?”

“Cancer. Blood,” Ivan said. “From gulag.”

Jennifer nodded. She sighed and pointed to where a teenaged boy and girl were standing.

“My teens,” Jennifer said. “I have a baby too, but he’s off with the younger kids. They are wild. He’s absolutely in love with every one of them.”

“Everyone calls them the ‘Wild Bunch,’” Sissy said with a smile. “That’s accurate.”

Jennifer gave her a brief smile. To regain her composure, she focused on her meal.

“It’s lovely to see so many careful people,” Jennifer said. “I love that they are keeping everyone so safe.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-two - You can talk to me

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO

Saturday midday— 12:31 p.m.

“Hey,” Tanesha said. She leaned over the bed to shake Jeraine’s shoulder. “You said that you wanted to get up at 12:30.”

Jeraine groaned.

“None of that,” Tanesha said. “You know that you’ve had enough sleep. You have to stay on schedule or your head gets off.”

“Feel tired.” Jeraine flopped over onto his back. He stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Actually, I’m okay.”

“How’s your head?” Tanesha asked. “Last night was a late one.”

Jeraine had a concert last night in the ballroom of the Castle. The musical guest was a jazz band that met over the Internet during Covid-19 lockdown. They were big on the social media platforms where they’d met and very popular with the public, in general. The band insisted on piping the music outside of the Castle. The Casino’s team set up speakers on the greenhouses in the Castle driveway. Wearing masks and socially distancing, the bands fans danced and sang along in the parking lot of the 7-11 on Colfax Boulevard.

Jeraine was up with the band long after his designated sleep time so he’d slept in late.

“Actually, I’m okay,” Jeraine said. He sat up and got out of bed. “Excited for Harvest Day. How’s it going?”

He walked across their bedroom to use the restroom.

“It’s fun,” Tanesha said. “I’m having fun, at least.”

“And Sissy?” Jeraine asked from the bathroom.

“Ivan’s got a kind of blood cancer,” Tanesha said. “He doesn’t want to marry Sissy. Just wants to just fade away.”

“Damn,” Jeraine said from the bathroom. “That’s drama.”

“Hmm,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine flushed the toilet.

“I’m going to make your smoothie,” Tanesha said. “I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

“See you there,” Jeraine said and turned on the shower water.

Tanesha went out to the big house kitchen. She put together Jeraine’s morning smoothie with a little bit of frozen fruit, some spinach, a cup of nut milk, protein powder, and some of his medications for his head.

Dressed in jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt, Jeraine came out with a towel on his head. She set the smoothie in front of him and he drank it down without question.

She gave him a glass of room temperature water. He drank it down.

“I wanted to say something,” Jeraine said.

“What’s up?” Tanesha asked.

“I know that when I came in last night, you were talking to Heather about something more important than your hair,” Jeraine said.

“Oh yea?” Tanesha shrugged. “What do you think you know?”

He grinned at her surly response, and she smiled in return.

“I wanted to remind you that you can talk to me,” Jeraine said. “I can handle more than conversations about your hair.”

“Good to know,” Tanesha said.

“Seems like something big is going on with you,” Jeraine said.

Tanesha sighed.

“I don’t know if I can go into it with everything going on today,” Tanesha said.

“Did something bad happen?” Jeraine asked.

“No, no, I mean, yes,” Tanesha said with a nod. “Working in the ER is awful. Totally awful. I cry every single day when I leave. I gotten to a point where I dread going in. I don’t think I can handle it anymore.”

As they had practiced in couples therapy, Jeraine didn’t offer suggestions. He simply listened. When he was sure she’d finished talking, he nodded.

“I understand,” Jeraine said, evenly to encourage her to talk.

“Hedone took me back in history to show me other plagues,” Tanesha said. “We went to London in modern times and then back in history to a plague pit. Same place. That was creepy. The area we had been standing on was the same place men were stacking human bodies — of all ages! — into the pit. Then she took me to Paris when they were moving bones into the limestone tunnels to make room in the cemeteries. But it was the last one that really hit home to me.”

“Where was that?” Jeraine said.

“Mexico City,” Tanesha said. “1500s. There was a plague of small pox. I mean, who gets small pox now? But then it killed 8 million people almost overnight. I looked it up. That was 40% of the population of Mexico City at the time!”

“What do you think that means?” Jeraine asked.

“You know how Hedone is,” Tanesha said. “She doesn’t say anything or fill in the blanks. She just shows you stuff that she thinks you need to see and lets you figure it out.”

Jeraine nodded, but didn’t say anything. He filled his water glass and drank another glass of water.

“Coffee?” Tanesha asked.

“Tea,” Jeraine said. “I’ve been drinking Nelson’s fancy French tea.”

“Good?” Tanesha asked.

Tanesha looked in the electric kettle. Finding it full of water, she turned it on.

“Really good,” Jeraine said. “He says that the Templars own a tea plantation that makes it. He has a lot of it. So he’s happy to share. Why don’t you try some?”

“Sounds good,” Tanesha said.

She got out a couple of mugs and gave them to him. Jeraine took down a tea pot. He filled it with warm water to warm the pot and waited for the kettle.

“What do you think Hedone wanted to you to get?” Jeraine asked when he couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Oh,” Tanesha said. “Sorry, I left you hanging. I think some of it is that these things come and go. There’s no evidence in Mexico City that so many people died all at once. In London, they built over the pits they put plague victims in. They just found them when they cleared the area for a rebuild. In Mexico City, we saw this solemn parade of people going to the cemetery. Weeping women and men followed tiny children’s caskets. But in London, it was all business. Men stacked bodies on cart.”

“And Paris?” Jeraine asked.

“It was like a party,” Tanesha said with a shake of her head. “They danced in the streets as their ancestors’ bones were moved. It felt festive, fun even. But when I say it, it’s so creepy.”

Jeraine nodded. The electric kettle clicked off. Jeraine poured the warm water from the tea pot and made a pot of tea for them. He set it on the counter next to the mugs. She got some cream from the refrigerator and held it up.

“Please,” he said, starting a timer on the tea.

She set the cream on the counter and went around to the other side. When the timer went off, he poured tea, put in the cream, and gave her a mug.

“What was Hedone trying to tell me?” Tanesha asked into her mug. “I can never be too sure, but I think it’s that plagues come and go. We’re so lucky not to have had one in a long time. But our ancestors experienced them for generations. Children died. Grandparents. Even healthy adults. There wasn’t anything they could do to avoid getting sick. It was just something that happened.”

“Some people were mad, of course. And, I’m sure that there were people who thought it was demons or wasn’t happening or whatever. Certainly, mistrust of authority is nothing new.”

Tanesha fell silent for a moment.

“I guess. . . well, I don’t really know, but I felt like I wasn’t so important in all of it, you know?” Tanesha asked. “I mean, when I’m in the ER, it’s all about me. What am I doing to help? Patients blame me for their illness or worse. Their families want me to do something that I will not do — like those crazy meds they talk about on the Internet.”

Jeraine nodded.

“But this is just life,” Tanesha said. “Death and life and death. It is how we came to be, you know.”

Tanesha fell silent again. Jeraine poured their cups of tea and doctored them with a bit of cream and sugar.

“I do what I know to do,” Tanesha said. “In the 1500s or whenever, people did what they could do. It’s really about doing what you can and leaving the rest. This pandemic isn’t about me. It’s about life.”

“Everything living has a virus,” Jeraine said.

“Exactly what Hedone says,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine nodded.

“I’m sorry that it’s so hard,” Jeraine said.

“I just. . .” Tanesha shook her head and shrugged. “I mean, Hedone said that I never wanted to be an ER doctor. And, she’s right. I never wanted to be an ER doctor. I’m good at it.”

Tanesha sighed.

“I don’t really know, honestly, what I want to do with my career and my life,” Tanesha said. “After being so certain for such a long time, it’s pretty scary.”

“I bet,” Jeraine said.

Tanesha shrugged.

“At least I know what I have to do today,” Tanesha said with a grin.

“What’s our assignment?” Jeraine asked.

“You are supposed to go over to Mr. Matchel’s and see what his garden needs,” Tanesha said. “Just check it out. If you can take care of it, that’s great. He likes you.”

Tanesha shrugged.

“If I need more help?” Jeraine asked.

“As usual, Jake and Mike are competing,” Tanesha said.

“Of course they are,” Jeraine said.

“They’d love to help, you know, get more points,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine laughed.

“If you don’t want to deal with them, all those teenagers are back,” Tanesha said. “They’re roving around looking for ways to help. Mr. Matchel’s garden was grown from their seedlings.”

“What are you assigned to?” Jeraine asked.

“I need to change into scrubs,” Tanesha said. “Help out with the clinic. There are more people today, plus Ivan. They don’t want to bring him to the clinic so I’m going to help Nelson and LaTanya until Blane’s done evaluating and treating Ivan.”

Jeraine held out his arms and they held each other for a moment.

“Go change,” Jeraine said. “I need to finish getting ready and brush my teeth. We can at least walk out together.”

“Meet tonight for the barbecue?” Tanesha asked.

“Of course,” Jeraine said.

Tanesha changed into a clean pair of scrubs. They walked out of the house together. Across the street, the paparazzi screamed at them and Jeraine swooped Tanesha into his arms. He bent her backwards and kissed her. She laughed, and they went their separate ways.

~~~~~~~~

Saturday afternoon — 1:11 p.m.

Shuffling her tarot cards, Delphie looked up at Ivan and Sissy. The windows of her apartment were wide open. They were sitting six feet apart and each of them were wearing face masks.

“What are your questions?” Delphie asked.

“We decided on three,” Sissy said.

Sissy looked at Ivan. He gave her a soft smile.

“I am only here so that she will accept,” Ivan said.

“Accept what?” Delphie asked.

“I am dying,” Ivan said. “My life is over. There is nothing left for us.”

Sissy’s face flushed with anger and emotion. Delphie scowled at him.

“Why is this important to you, Ivan?” Delphie asked.

“It is the truth,” Ivan said. He gave an exhausted lift of this shoulder.

Moving quickly, Delphie laid out the cards and then scooped them up again. She shuffled.

“And?” Ivan asked, his voice laced with exhauster.

“I was just checking something,” Delphie said. “What are your three questions?”

“I want to know what you checked,” Ivan said.

Delphie smiled at him.

“I had a sense that your desire to just fade away was. . .” Delphie sighed.

“Be clear!” Ivan said, emphatically.

“Okay,” Delphie said. “Your sense that ‘there is nothing left’ for you, for Sissy, for the both of you, has more to do with the fact that you believe that you don’t deserve to be happy than any intuitive knowing about your health.”

Ivan scowled but Sissy nodded.

“You have suffered enough, Ivan,” Delphie said. “Your sister, your mother, and your father believe that you had suffered enough. It’s time for you to live a joyous life.”

“I am Russian,” Ivan said. “Joy does not come naturally to me.”

Delphie smiled at Ivan.

“And now this sickness,” Ivan said. He shrugged.

“Hmm,” Delphie said. She smiled at Sissy. “What are your questions?”

“Is there hope?” Sissy asked.

“For?” Delphie asked.

“Us,” Sissy said. “For Ivan’s health. For our future. For my future?”

“Yes. Yes. And yes,” Delphie said with a grin. “There is a lot of hope.”

“For?” Ivan asked.

“You have options with your health,” Delphie said. “I see two children. I see Sissy dancing for at least another decade.”

Delphie shrugged. Ivan shook his head with disbelief.

“Okay,” Sissy said. She glanced at Ivan and continued, “Otis believes that our own option is a bone marrow transplant. Are there other options? Better options? Will any of these things work?”

“What are the options?” Delphie asked and stopped shuffling the cards.

“Continue chemotherapy,” Sissy said.

Delphie placed a card on her table.

“Immunotherapy,” Sissy said.

“Okay,” Delphie said, placing another card.

“Bone marrow transplant,” Sissy said.

Delphie put down another card.

“Um, Blane talked about something, but we weren’t sure what he was talking about,” Sissy said.

Nodding, Delphie set down another card.

“Anything else?” Delphie asked.

Sissy looked at Ivan.

“Give up,” Ivan said. “Not waste the money and time. Let go, let God.”

“Of course,” Delphie said and set another card onto the table.

For a long moment, they were silent.

“What I see is here and what I know,” Delphie waved her hand in a circle around her forehead, “is that each of these treatments have merit.”

But. . .!” Sissy’s voice rose with frustration.

“The question is one of order,” Delphie said, nodding to herself. “Which one are you doing now?”

“Ivan stopped chemotherapy last week,” Sissy said her voice laced with sorrow and anger.

“Ah,” Delphie said. Looking up at them, she smiled. “That makes sense. May I speak plainly?”

“Please,” Ivan said.

“You are exhausted,” Delphie said, gesturing to the cards. “Your exhaustion is from your illness and from your mental torture. You cannot heal until you are less exhausted.”

Ivan grunted in irritation.

“So here’s the best order,” Delphie said. “First, you work with Blane. Every herb, every treatment. You do everything he asks you to do. This will help raise your energy. It will give you the strength to end your mental torture. So in combination with your work with Blane, you must enter into psychological treatment — and work your ass off, if only because you are loved by Sissy and you wish to give her peace.”

“I do,” Ivan croaked.

“This will not take long,” Delphie said. “A couple of weeks. Maybe a month. Then you will return to chemotherapy, but much stronger than before. This will lead you to. . .”

“Bone marrow transplant?” Sissy asked.

“Not yet,” Delphie said. “You will stay with Blane — drinking his herbs, doing his treatment — and stay in psychotherapy. After the chemotherapy, you will take the immunotherapy for whatever you need. This treatment will be effective for you, but also be very hard.”

“If — and it’s an if — the immunotherapy doesn’t work, you will need the bone marrow transplant,” Delphie said.

“Otis wants us to skip everything and go to the bone marrow transplant,” Sissy said.

“Otis knows that Ivan is exhausted,” Delphie said. “He doesn’t realize that some of this exhaustion is from mental suffering. He can’t differentiate.”

“Are you saying that my mental issues are the cause of my sickness?” Ivan asked.

“No, of course not,” Delphie said. “I’m saying that your mental issues are abetting your illness. You should be able to heal your illness if you heal your mental torment. Nothing will work — not even a bone marrow transplant — unless you learn to forgive yourself.”

“Forgive myself,” Ivan said. He looked at Delphie. “Is it even possible?”

“Absolutely,” Delphie said.

“So there is hope,” Sissy said.

“There is lots of hope,” Delphie said. “Do you have a third question?”

Sissy and Ivan looked at each other. Ivan nodded.

“Ivan wants to know if we should marry,” Sissy said.

Delphie chuckled.

“Why is that funny?” Ivan asked, irritably.

“Of course you should marry,” Delphie said. “You don’t need me to tell you this. You were born for each other. You belong together — and you know this!”

Ivan let out a kind of sigh. The breath seemed to deflate him.

“But first, you need rest,” Delphie said. “I will speak with Jake to see where we can move you.”

“Blane invited us to stay with them,” Sissy said.

“We can keep you safer from Covid here,” Delphie said. “Jake is thinking about this right now. He will come up in the next five minutes to tell you where to stay.”

Sissy smiled at Ivan, and to Sissy’s surprised, Ivan actually smiled back.

“Thank you,” Ivan said. “I haven’t known how to. . .”

“I understand,” Delphie said. “We have a lot of people here today. There is someone who can help you with your head. She’s the mother of one of the teenagers. You will meet her at dinner.”

Ivan nodded.

Delphie got up and walked to her front door. There was a knock on the door and Delphie opened the door. Blane and Jacob came inside.

“Blane told me that he would like to treat Ivan,” Jacob said to Delphie. “He said that Ivan should stay close so that he can get the treatment he needs. I. . .”

Jacob looked across the apartment. Seeing Ivan and Sissy, he smiled.

“Oh great, you’re here,” Jacob said. “Val and Mike are moving out of their apartment. With three kids, it’s too small for them now. They’re moving into a couple of apartments near Honey and MJ. Now that the Denver Police are done, I should have it finished in a day or so. You two are welcome to Val and Mike’s apartment when the new apartment is completed.”

“I can stay with Sam for a couple of days,” Delphie said. “Ivy is leaving Sunday night to spend a week with her Aunt Gracie. Gracie goes on leave today and will be here for dinner tonight.”

“I don’t want to push you out of your apartment,” Sissy said.

Delphie chuckled.

“What is it?” Ivan asked.

“It’s all set up for you,” Delphie said with a grin. “Did you think that I would not be ready? I’ve changed the bedding. The refrigerator is filled for you. It’s all ready for you.”

Sissy smiled. Ivan grabbed Sissy’s hand.

“Why don’t we help you into bed?” Blane asked. “If you’re willing, we can start treatment right now.”

“Yes,” Ivan said. “I would like that. But. . .”

Ivan looked at Sissy.

“What about Sissy and her dance?” Ivan asked.

“It will work out,” Delphie said. “You will spend some time here together and some apart. Ivan, you need days of long rest that you can really only get alone. It will work out so beautifully that you will think it was planned.”

Ivan looked at Sissy, who was smiling broadly. Ivan nodded.

Blane and Jacob helped Ivan into Delphie’s bed.

“I’ll get your bag,” Jacob said.

Blane nodded. Jacob and Delphie left the small apartment.

“What do you think?” Sissy asked.

“I think that I am so lucky to have you in my life,” Ivan said.

“I agree,” Sissy said. “I’m going to shower. You rest for a while. I’m sure they’ll bring up lunch and we’ll plan to head down for dinner.”

Ivan nodded. Jacob returned with Blane’s bag, and then rushed off to do something else. Blane started to work. Sissy went to shower.

There was hope, and that was enough.

Denver Cereal continues next week...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-two - You can talk to me (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO

(part six)

“But first, you need rest,” Delphie said. “I will speak with Jake to see where we can move you.”

“Blane invited us to stay with them,” Sissy said.

“We can keep you safer from Covid here,” Delphie said. “Jake is thinking about this right now. He will come up in the next five minutes to tell you where to stay.”

Sissy smiled at Ivan, and to Sissy’s surprised, Ivan actually smiled back.

“Thank you,” Ivan said. “I haven’t known how to. . .”

“I understand,” Delphie said. “We have a lot of people here today. There is someone who can help you with your head. She’s the mother of one of the teenagers. You will meet her at dinner.”

Ivan nodded.

Delphie got up and walked to her front door. There was a knock on the door and Delphie opened the door. Blane and Jacob came inside.

“Blane told me that he would like to treat Ivan,” Jacob said to Delphie. “He said that Ivan should stay close so that he can get the treatment he needs. I. . .”

Jacob looked across the apartment. Seeing Ivan and Sissy, he smiled.

“Oh great, you’re here,” Jacob said. “Val and Mike are moving out of their apartment. With three kids, it’s too small for them now. They’re moving into a couple of apartments near Honey and MJ. Now that the Denver Police are done, I should have it finished in a day or so. You two are welcome to Val and Mike’s apartment when the new apartment is completed.”

“I can stay with Sam for a couple of days,” Delphie said. “Ivy is leaving Sunday night to spend a week with her Aunt Gracie. Gracie goes on leave today and will be here for dinner tonight.”

“I don’t want to push you out of your apartment,” Sissy said.

Delphie chuckled.

“What is it?” Ivan asked.

“It’s all set up for you,” Delphie said with a grin. “Did you think that I would not be ready? I’ve changed the bedding. The refrigerator is filled for you. It’s all ready for you.”

Sissy smiled. Ivan grabbed Sissy’s hand.

“Why don’t we help you into bed?” Blane asked. “If you’re willing, we can start treatment right now.”

“Yes,” Ivan said. “I would like that. But. . .”

Ivan looked at Sissy.

“What about Sissy and her dance?” Ivan asked.

“It will work out,” Delphie said. “You will spend some time here together and some apart. Ivan, you need days of long rest that you can really only get alone. It will work out so beautifully that you will think it was planned.”

Ivan looked at Sissy, who was smiling broadly. Ivan nodded.

Blane and Jacob helped Ivan into Delphie’s bed.

“I’ll get your bag,” Jacob said.

Blane nodded. Jacob and Delphie left the small apartment.

“What do you think?” Sissy asked.

“I think that I am so lucky to have you in my life,” Ivan said.

“I agree,” Sissy said. “I’m going to shower. You rest for a while. I’m sure they’ll bring up lunch and we’ll plan to head down for dinner.”

Ivan nodded. Jacob returned with Blane’s bag, and then rushed off to do something else. Blane started to work. Sissy went to shower.

There was hope, and that was enough.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-two - You can talk to me (part five)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO

(part five)

“What I see is here and what I know,” Delphie waved her hand in a circle around her forehead, “is that each of these treatments have merit.”

But. . .!” Sissy’s voice rose with frustration.

“The question is one of order,” Delphie said, nodding to herself. “Which one are you doing now?”

“Ivan stopped chemotherapy last week,” Sissy said her voice laced with sorrow and anger.

“Ah,” Delphie said. Looking up at them, she smiled. “That makes sense. May I speak plainly?”

“Please,” Ivan said.

“You are exhausted,” Delphie said, gesturing to the cards. “Your exhaustion is from your illness and from your mental torture. You cannot heal until you are less exhausted.”

Ivan grunted in irritation.

“So here’s the best order,” Delphie said. “First, you work with Blane. Every herb, every treatment. You do everything he asks you to do. This will help raise your energy. It will give you the strength to end your mental torture. So in combination with your work with Blane, you must enter into psychological treatment — and work your ass off, if only because you are loved by Sissy and you wish to give her peace.”

“I do,” Ivan croaked.

“This will not take long,” Delphie said. “A couple of weeks. Maybe a month. Then you will return to chemotherapy, but much stronger than before. This will lead you to. . .”

“Bone marrow transplant?” Sissy asked.

“Not yet,” Delphie said. “You will stay with Blane — drinking his herbs, doing his treatment — and stay in psychotherapy. After the chemotherapy, you will take the immunotherapy for whatever you need. This treatment will be effective for you, but also be very hard.”

“If — and it’s an if — the immunotherapy doesn’t work, you will need the bone marrow transplant,” Delphie said.

“Otis wants us to skip everything and go to the bone marrow transplant,” Sissy said.

“Otis knows that Ivan is exhausted,” Delphie said. “He doesn’t realize that some of this exhaustion is from mental suffering. He can’t differentiate.”

“Are you saying that my mental issues are the cause of my sickness?” Ivan asked.

“No, of course not,” Delphie said. “I’m saying that your mental issues are abetting your illness. You should be able to heal your illness if you heal your mental torment. Nothing will work — not even a bone marrow transplant — unless you learn to forgive yourself.”

“Forgive myself,” Ivan said. He looked at Delphie. “Is it even possible?”

“Absolutely,” Delphie said.

“So there is hope,” Sissy said.

“There is lots of hope,” Delphie said. “Do you have a third question?”

Sissy and Ivan looked at each other. Ivan nodded.

“Ivan wants to know if we should marry,” Sissy said.

Delphie chuckled.

“Why is that funny?” Ivan asked, irritably.

“Of course you should marry,” Delphie said. “You don’t need me to tell you this. You were born for each other. You belong together — and you know this!”

Ivan let out a kind of sigh. The breath seemed to deflate him.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-two - You can talk to me (part four)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO

(part four)

Saturday afternoon — 1:11 p.m.

Shuffling her tarot cards, Delphie looked up at Ivan and Sissy. The windows of her apartment were wide open. They were sitting six feet apart and each of them were wearing face masks.

“What are your questions?” Delphie asked.

“We decided on three,” Sissy said.

Sissy looked at Ivan. He gave her a soft smile.

“I am only here so that she will accept,” Ivan said.

“Accept what?” Delphie asked.

“I am dying,” Ivan said. “My life is over. There is nothing left for us.”

Sissy’s face flushed with anger and emotion. Delphie scowled at him.

“Why is this important to you, Ivan?” Delphie asked.

“It is the truth,” Ivan said. He gave an exhausted lift of this shoulder.

Moving quickly, Delphie laid out the cards and then scooped them up again. She shuffled.

“And?” Ivan asked, his voice laced with exhauster.

“I was just checking something,” Delphie said. “What are your three questions?”

“I want to know what you checked,” Ivan said.

Delphie smiled at him.

“I had a sense that your desire to just fade away was. . .” Delphie sighed.

“Be clear!” Ivan said, emphatically.

“Okay,” Delphie said. “Your sense that ‘there is nothing left’ for you, for Sissy, for the both of you, has more to do with the fact that you believe that you don’t deserve to be happy than any intuitive knowing about your health.”

Ivan scowled but Sissy nodded.

“You have suffered enough, Ivan,” Delphie said. “Your sister, your mother, and your father believe that you had suffered enough. It’s time for you to live a joyous life.”

“I am Russian,” Ivan said. “Joy does not come naturally to me.”

Delphie smiled at Ivan.

“And now this sickness,” Ivan said. He shrugged.

“Hmm,” Delphie said. She smiled at Sissy. “What are your questions?”

“Is there hope?” Sissy asked.

“For?” Delphie asked.

“Us,” Sissy said. “For Ivan’s health. For our future. For my future?”

“Yes. Yes. And yes,” Delphie said with a grin. “There is a lot of hope.”

“For?” Ivan asked.

“You have options with your health,” Delphie said. “I see two children. I see Sissy dancing for at least another decade.”

Delphie shrugged. Ivan shook his head with disbelief.

“Okay,” Sissy said. She glanced at Ivan and continued, “Otis believes that our own option is a bone marrow transplant. Are there other options? Better options? Will any of these things work?”

“What are the options?” Delphie asked and stopped shuffling the cards.

“Continue chemotherapy,” Sissy said.

Delphie placed a card on her table.

“Immunotherapy,” Sissy said.

“Okay,” Delphie said, placing another card.

“Bone marrow transplant,” Sissy said.

Delphie put down another card.

“Um, Blane talked about something, but we weren’t sure what he was talking about,” Sissy said.

Nodding, Delphie set down another card.

“Anything else?” Delphie asked.

Sissy looked at Ivan.

“Give up,” Ivan said. “Not waste the money and time. Let go, let God.”

“Of course,” Delphie said and set another card onto the table.

For a long moment, they were silent.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-two - You can talk to me (part three)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO

(part three)

“Some people were mad, of course. And, I’m sure that there were people who thought it was demons or wasn’t happening or whatever. Certainly, mistrust of authority is nothing new.”

Tanesha fell silent for a moment.

“I guess. . . well, I don’t really know, but I felt like I wasn’t so important in all of it, you know?” Tanesha asked. “I mean, when I’m in the ER, it’s all about me. What am I doing to help? Patients blame me for their illness or worse. Their families want me to do something that I will not do — like those crazy meds they talk about on the Internet.”

Jeraine nodded.

“But this is just life,” Tanesha said. “Death and life and death. It is how we came to be, you know.”

Tanesha fell silent again. Jeraine poured their cups of tea and doctored them with a bit of cream and sugar.

“I do what I know to do,” Tanesha said. “In the 1500s or whenever, people did what they could do. It’s really about doing what you can and leaving the rest. This pandemic isn’t about me. It’s about life.”

“Everything living has a virus,” Jeraine said.

“Exactly what Hedone says,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine nodded.

“I’m sorry that it’s so hard,” Jeraine said.

“I just. . .” Tanesha shook her head and shrugged. “I mean, Hedone said that I never wanted to be an ER doctor. And, she’s right. I never wanted to be an ER doctor. I’m good at it.”

Tanesha sighed.

“I don’t really know, honestly, what I want to do with my career and my life,” Tanesha said. “After being so certain for such a long time, it’s pretty scary.”

“I bet,” Jeraine said.

Tanesha shrugged.

“At least I know what I have to do today,” Tanesha said with a grin.

“What’s our assignment?” Jeraine asked.

“You are supposed to go over to Mr. Matchel’s and see what his garden needs,” Tanesha said. “Just check it out. If you can take care of it, that’s great. He likes you.”

Tanesha shrugged.

“If I need more help?” Jeraine asked.

“As usual, Jake and Mike are competing,” Tanesha said.

“Of course they are,” Jeraine said.

“They’d love to help, you know, get more points,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine laughed.

“If you don’t want to deal with them, all those teenagers are back,” Tanesha said. “They’re roving around looking for ways to help. Mr. Matchel’s garden was grown from their seedlings.”

“What are you assigned to?” Jeraine asked.

“I need to change into scrubs,” Tanesha said. “Help out with the clinic. There are more people today, plus Ivan. They don’t want to bring him to the clinic so I’m going to help Nelson and LaTanya until Blane’s done evaluating and treating Ivan.”

Jeraine held out his arms and they held each other for a moment.

“Go change,” Jeraine said. “I need to finish getting ready and brush my teeth. We can at least walk out together.”

“Meet tonight for the barbecue?” Tanesha asked.

“Of course,” Jeraine said.

Tanesha changed into a clean pair of scrubs. They walked out of the house together. Across the street, the paparazzi screamed at them and Jeraine swooped Tanesha into his arms. He bent her backwards and kissed her. She laughed, and they went their separate ways.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-two - You can talk to me (part two)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO

(part two)

“Hedone took me back in history to show me other plagues,” Tanesha said. “We went to London in modern times and then back in history to a plague pit. Same place. That was creepy. The area we had been standing on was the same place men were stacking human bodies — of all ages! — into the pit. Then she took me to Paris when they were moving bones into the limestone tunnels to make room in the cemeteries. But it was the last one that really hit home to me.”

“Where was that?” Jeraine said.

“Mexico City,” Tanesha said. “1500s. There was a plague of small pox. I mean, who gets small pox now? But then it killed 8 million people almost overnight. I looked it up. That was 40% of the population of Mexico City at the time!”

“What do you think that means?” Jeraine asked.

“You know how Hedone is,” Tanesha said. “She doesn’t say anything or fill in the blanks. She just shows you stuff that she thinks you need to see and lets you figure it out.”

Jeraine nodded, but didn’t say anything. He filled his water glass and drank another glass of water.

“Coffee?” Tanesha asked.

“Tea,” Jeraine said. “I’ve been drinking Nelson’s fancy French tea.”

“Good?” Tanesha asked.

Tanesha looked in the electric kettle. Finding it full of water, she turned it on.

“Really good,” Jeraine said. “He says that the Templars own a tea plantation that makes it. He has a lot of it. So he’s happy to share. Why don’t you try some?”

“Sounds good,” Tanesha said.

She got out a couple of mugs and gave them to him. Jeraine took down a tea pot. He filled it with warm water to warm the pot and waited for the kettle.

“What do you think Hedone wanted to you to get?” Jeraine asked when he couldn’t stand it anymore.

“Oh,” Tanesha said. “Sorry, I left you hanging. I think some of it is that these things come and go. There’s no evidence in Mexico City that so many people died all at once. In London, they built over the pits they put plague victims in. They just found them when they cleared the area for a rebuild. In Mexico City, we saw this solemn parade of people going to the cemetery. Weeping women and men followed tiny children’s caskets. But in London, it was all business. Men stacked bodies on cart.”

“And Paris?” Jeraine asked.

“It was like a party,” Tanesha said with a shake of her head. “They danced in the streets as their ancestors’ bones were moved. It felt festive, fun even. But when I say it, it’s so creepy.”

Jeraine nodded. The electric kettle clicked off. Jeraine poured the warm water from the tea pot and made a pot of tea for them. He set it on the counter next to the mugs. She got some cream from the refrigerator and held it up.

“Please,” he said, starting a timer on the tea.

She set the cream on the counter and went around to the other side. When the timer went off, he poured tea, put in the cream, and gave her a mug.

“What was Hedone trying to tell me?” Tanesha asked into her mug. “I can never be too sure, but I think it’s that plagues come and go. We’re so lucky not to have had one in a long time. But our ancestors experienced them for generations. Children died. Grandparents. Even healthy adults. There wasn’t anything they could do to avoid getting sick. It was just something that happened.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-two - You can talk to me (part one)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-TWO

(part one)

Saturday midday— 12:31 p.m.

“Hey,” Tanesha said. She leaned over the bed to shake Jeraine’s shoulder. “You said that you wanted to get up at 12:30.”

Jeraine groaned.

“None of that,” Tanesha said. “You know that you’ve had enough sleep. You have to stay on schedule or your head gets off.”

“Feel tired.” Jeraine flopped over onto his back. He stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Actually, I’m okay.”

“How’s your head?” Tanesha asked. “Last night was a late one.”

Jeraine had a concert last night in the ballroom of the Castle. The musical guest was a jazz band that met over the Internet during Covid-19 lockdown. They were big on the social media platforms where they’d met and very popular with the public, in general. The band insisted on piping the music outside of the Castle. The Casino’s team set up speakers on the greenhouses in the Castle driveway. Wearing masks and socially distancing, the bands fans danced and sang along in the parking lot of the 7-11 on Colfax Boulevard.

Jeraine was up with the band long after his designated sleep time so he’d slept in late.

“Actually, I’m okay,” Jeraine said. He sat up and got out of bed. “Excited for Harvest Day. How’s it going?”

He walked across their bedroom to use the restroom.

“It’s fun,” Tanesha said. “I’m having fun, at least.”

“And Sissy?” Jeraine asked from the bathroom.

“Ivan’s got a kind of blood cancer,” Tanesha said. “He doesn’t want to marry Sissy. Just wants to just fade away.”

“Damn,” Jeraine said from the bathroom. “That’s drama.”

“Hmm,” Tanesha said.

Jeraine flushed the toilet.

“I’m going to make your smoothie,” Tanesha said. “I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

“See you there,” Jeraine said and turned on the shower water.

Tanesha went out to the big house kitchen. She put together Jeraine’s morning smoothie with a little bit of frozen fruit, some spinach, a cup of nut milk, protein powder, and some of his medications for his head.

Dressed in jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt, Jeraine came out with a towel on his head. She set the smoothie in front of him and he drank it down without question.

She gave him a glass of room temperature water. He drank it down.

“I wanted to say something,” Jeraine said.

“What’s up?” Tanesha asked.

“I know that when I came in last night, you were talking to Heather about something more important than your hair,” Jeraine said.

“Oh yea?” Tanesha shrugged. “What do you think you know?”

He grinned at her surly response, and she smiled in return.

“I wanted to remind you that you can talk to me,” Jeraine said. “I can handle more than conversations about your hair.”

“Good to know,” Tanesha said.

“Seems like something big is going on with you,” Jeraine said.

Tanesha sighed.

“I don’t know if I can go into it with everything going on today,” Tanesha said.

“Did something bad happen?” Jeraine asked.

“No, no, I mean, yes,” Tanesha said with a nod. “Working in the ER is awful. Totally awful. I cry every single day when I leave. I gotten to a point where I dread going in. I don’t think I can handle it anymore.”

As they had practiced in couples therapy, Jeraine didn’t offer suggestions. He simply listened. When he was sure she’d finished talking, he nodded.

“I understand,” Jeraine said, evenly to encourage her to talk.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-one - Myeloma

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-ONE

Saturday morning — 11:03 a.m.

Staring at some kind of a map, Ava, Fran, Leslie, and Bob walked across the Castle living room.

“That’s this way,” Jacob said.

Ava and her team waited for Jacob to get ahead of them. Captain Ferguson and his two technicians were following Jacob.

“We haven’t been through this room,” Jacob said. “Honestly, it’s something Val was going to get to but she got pregnant again. So be super careful. There could be anything in here.”

Everyone nodded. Jacob walked down the hallway in front of Honey and MJ’s apartment and stairs. The hallway stopped a few feet after the stairs with one room on the right.

“It’s this way,” Jacob said, holding up a cordless drill.

He pressed a section which opened up to show a screw, which he loosened. He revealed other screws and, with the help of Captain Ferguson, removed the panel that had been a wall.

“I had no idea that was there,” Sissy said.

Everyone turned to look at her.

“Hi,” Sissy said. “I wondered if I could talk to Ava.”

Ava looked at her team, and they nodded.

“What are you doing?” Sissy asked.

“Some jackass detective decided to look into cold cases here at the Castle,” Ava said, as she walked toward Sissy. “They were such assholes that we had to leave the lab to come spend our weekend here. Captain Ferguson has an entire team is working this weekend on this bullshit.”

Ava hugged Sissy.

“Sorry to be so dark,” Ava said as they separated. “Seth’s home and I want to be home with him.”

“I understand,” Sissy said.

“It’s really great to see you,” Ava said. “Just speaking for myself, I’ve missed you. I know that you’ve seen Seth a few times, but I know he’s missed you too. Not to mention your family. Is it nice to be home?”

A couple of laughing and talking teenagers ran in the side entrance and into the Castle living room. They turned to watch them before turning back.

“I wanted to ask you about Ivan,” Sissy said.

Ava nodded.

“Is it okay for him to be there?” Sissy asked. “I. . . Honestly, I didn’t know what to do.”

“He’s more than welcome to stay as long as he needs to,” Ava said. “Seth would love it if you would stay with us, but we marginally understand that you want to be with your family.”

Sissy gave her a worried nod.

“I need to talk to Sandy and Aden,” Sissy said. “They set aside time for us to talk. They’re waiting for me. But I wanted to check.”

“Don’t worry,” Ava said. “We’ve done this before. We’re happy to help.”

Sissy gave her a worried nod. Ava impulsively hugged Sissy again. Ava kissed Sissy’s cheek and went back to join her team. Sissy watched Ava for a minute before heading up the stairs to speak with Aden and Sandy.

With each step forward, she felt heavier until, at the top of the stairs, she barely had the strength to take the final step. Talking to Sandy and Aden would make everything that was happening real. For the last six months, she told herself that she didn’t have to deal with everything until she spoke with Sandy and Aden. Standing outside the apartment, she took a breath for courage and went inside.

Aden was sitting at the table. He had his laptop open, his phone, and a checkbook. He was clearly ready for anything. There were glasses of water and a pitcher on the table. Sandy came in from the kitchen with a pot of tea. Sandy nodded to Sissy and went back into the kitchen for something yummy.

Sandy did not disappoint. She returned with her “Everything” cookies that included nuts and chocolate and caramel bits and some candies and other yummy things. They were Sissy’s favorite.

“Have a seat,” Aden said, gesturing to a seat next to him at the round table. He gestured to everything in front of him. “I wasn’t sure what we’d need, so I. . .”

Sissy grinned at him.

“It’s really great to see you, Sis,” Aden said. “I’ve missed you. You’re such an important part of our family that we all miss you.”

“I miss you guys too,” Sissy said. “It’s like a rock in my shoe. I feel it every day.”

“We never got used to it either,” Aden said. “That’s not to underestimate your incredible accomplishments.”

Sissy smiled at him. Sandy took a seat next to Aden. She set her phone in front of her.

“We watched your final dance for school,” Aden said.

Sandy held up a hand showing five fingers and mouthed “times.” Sissy grinned.

“You know, I lead meetings all day, all week,” Aden said. “I don’t want to step on your toes.”

Sissy gave him a little shake of her head and sat down next to Aden. She shifted the chair so that she could see them both. As a younger girl, Sissy talked nearly non-stop. Neither Sandy nor Aden knew what to do in Sissy’s silence. They waited.

“I. . .” Sissy said. She looked up at them and then sighed. “If I tell you then it all becomes real.”

Sandy reached out for Sissy’s left hand and Aden took her right.

“Just tell us,” Sandy said, softly.

“Can’t fix a problem we know nothing about,” Aden said.

Sissy nodded.

“You probably remember that Ivan moved to Paris to rest,” Sissy said. “He was tired from working and everything. I mean, he’s danced all of his life. He’s the eldest male dancer in the world.”

Sissy nodded.

“It turns out that he had a kind of blood cancer called ‘Myeloma,’” Sissy said. “The doctors think it’s from his time in the gulag. They think that he’s had it for a few years. They got his samples from when we were shot. They found evidence that he already had the Myeloma.”

“When did you find out?” Aden asked.

“Right after I graduated,” Sissy said. “I. . . I mean, I’m such a child. I thought that if we ‘took care of it’ for a few months that we’d get married and live our lives.”

Sissy shook her head.

“So he’s started treatment?” Sandy asked.

Sissy nodded.

“He’s pretty sick,” Sissy said. “He’s lost all of his hair and. . .”

Fat tears ran down her face. She sighed.

“The doctors said that he had a great chance of getting well because he’s so fit and doesn’t have a chromosome issue,” Sissy said. “But that gulag and. . . I mean, there’s no way to know what he was exposed to there.”

“What can we do?” Sandy asked.

“I. . .” Sissy swiped at her tears. Her voice dropped to a whisper, “I don’t know what to do.”

“We’re here,” Aden said. “Tell us what the options are.”

“They tried the meds in France,” Sissy said.

“Did they help?” Aden asked.

Sissy shook her head.

“Lay out the options for us,” Aden said. “I know that you are quite familiar with all of this but it’s new to us.”

Sissy bit her lip and nodded.

“Okay,” Sissy said. “I, uh, okay.”

She took a breath and settled her emotions.

“The doctors in France want to try more medications,” Sissy said. “But Otis says that nothing will work. Otis says that Ivan needs a bone marrow transplant. It’s usually not done in these cases, but Otis thinks it’s Ivan’s only chance. Otis wants him to have the last of the twin’s cord blood. If not that, Grace’s cord blood. He says that Grace has Mike’s healing abilities. Val saved it, right?”

Sandy and Aden nodded.

“One of the problems is that the docs in France want to be more conservative,” Sissy said. “Otis says that they’re going to waste our time and Ivan will get weaker. By the time they decide to do the bone marrow transplant, Ivan will be too weak to get it.”

“I mean. . .” Sissy abruptly stopped talking. Sissy grabbed her glass of water and drank it down. Sandy poured tea for each of them.

“I don’t know if you’ve spent time with Otis. . .” Sissy said. She looked up to see Sandy and Aden shake their heads. “He’s kind of a drama queen. It’s weird because he’s always so emphatic about things, so sure of what to do — anything, really. It’s hard to negotiate a dinner order, let alone something like this.”

Sissy nodded.

“The doctors in France won’t do a bone marrow treatment,” Sissy said. “They refused. And then there’s money! Healthcare is free in France. Ivan is adamant that he won’t saddle me with a huge medical bills. So he. . . So he. . .”

Sissy sucked in a breath.

“He doesn’t want to get married,” Sandy said.

Crying, Sissy nodded.

“He knows that you’re loaded?” Aden asked.

“How am I loaded?” Sissy said, angrily. “My so-called mother stole any penny that should have been mine from Dad and any other money lined her pockets and. . .”

Sissy noticed that Sandy was shaking her head.

“Seth has money for you,” Sandy said. “Or I should say — I have accounts for you from Seth’s money.”

“Sandy added money to your accounts when she received that money for her mother’s symphony,” Aden said. “You have enough money to do anything you’d like to do. We’re also here to help in anyway — financial issues are the easiest, honestly.”

Sissy’s head collapsed into her hands. She sobbed.

Able to reach her, Aden rubbed her back. After a few moments, Sissy sat up.

Sandy gave her a soft smile. Sissy had become such a young woman.

“I’ll talk to Val and Jake, but I’m sure we can put you both on the Lipson Construction insurance,” Aden said. “That should help.”

“Why Val and Jake?” Sissy asked.

“They have to secure the insurance,” Aden said. “It’s complicated, but whenever there’s some weird economic issue, the insurance company wants us to stop covering our employees. Val and Jake put down a million or more to guarantee the insurance.”

“I think Aden’s just asking to be polite,” Sandy said. “You’ve always been on our insurance — which is Lipson Insurance. Adding Ivan is not a big deal. They have unmarried partner insurance from the days when gay people couldn’t get married.”

“With Seth, we are your legal guardians,” Aden said. “Insurance, money — all of that is solvable. The question is what do you need from us?”

“I need. . .” Sissy said. “I need. . .”

She looked at Sandy and Aden.

“Hope,” Sissy croaked out. “I thought that I’d finish school and start a life with Ivan. I’d work. He’d coach. We’d travel all over the world. It’s like some Kathryn Hepburn movie. I. . .”

Sissy heaved a heavy sigh.

“It’s gone,” Sissy said. “All of it. He doesn’t want to get married. He only came with me here so that I would be at home. He plans to leave me here and head back to France. He doesn’t want the bone marrow transplant. He doesn’t want to risk the cost of treatment. He. . .”

Sissy shook her head.

“Nadia calls him a stubborn old goat,” Sandy said.

Sissy grinned at the words, but the rest of her face was cast in sorrow.

“What about ballet companies?” Aden asked.

Sissy nodded and swallowed hard.

“I really want to stay in Paris,” Sissy said. “I know that would keep me away from home, but I love the Opera de Paris. I just love it there in France. Even the awful parts. I love Paris. Truly.”

“If Ivan dies?” Sandy asked, softly.

“I. . .” Sissy nodded. “He’s asked me this, as well. I would still rather be in Paris.”

Sissy nodded.

“I think,” Sissy said. “I don’t know. I’m just a kid. I feel like just a kid and. . .”

“This is a huge burden to have carried by yourself,” Sandy said.

“I’m glad you told us,” Aden said.

Sissy nodded.

“Ivan’s staying with Seth,” Sissy said. “I asked Ava if it was okay. She was like you guys — ‘Whatever you need,’ ‘Happy to help,’ you know how she is. Seth, his father, Maresol — they’ve been so nice. So nice. But. . .”

Sissy started crying again.

“What am I going to do?” Sissy asked.

No one said anything for a long moment. Aden looked at Sandy and she nodded.

“Are you asking us for advice?” Sandy asked.

“I guess so?” Sissy shrugged. “But don’t be offended if I don’t do it.”

“Of course,” Sandy said. “You’ve always been your own person, Sis. I wouldn’t expect that to change.”

Sissy gave Sandy a smile.

“So, my advice is this,” Sandy started. She took a deep breath and continued, “I think you should marry Ivan. The sooner the better. In the meantime, we’ll get him in to see Blane. See what Blane’s Chinese Medicine prognosis might be. Blane can talk to him about the process of getting the bone marrow transplant. Aden?”

Sissy nodded.

“I agree with Sandy. Get married,” Aden said. “Enjoy the time you have. I also think that we should talk to Nadia. She talked to Nash almost every day. I doubt that she knows about this.”

“She doesn’t,” Sissy said. “Ivan wants to just fade away. Die with dignity and. . . Sorry, please continue.”

“The only other thing I would add is that I think you should talk to Delphie,” Aden said. “Get Ivan to talk to Delphie. If anyone can give you reasoned options, it’s someone who can see all of the outcomes. I’ll tell you, she’s been really helpful to me.”

“Really?” Surprised, Sissy asked in a laughed. “Delphie?”

“I’ve known her since Jake gave me the job as his assistant,” Aden said. “She told me that I would meet Sandy. She told me that I would have to be really patient. She got me working on myself so that I was ready when I had a chance with Sandy. I think she’ll help Ivan in ways we can’t predict.”

Sissy nodded.

“But,” Aden said, with a grin, “you have to be prepared for some incense and tea and all the rig-a-morol. You know.”

Sissy gave him a watery smile.

“Whatever happens, Sis, we’ll be here for you,” Sandy said. “In fact, I wondered if we should look to buy you a place in Paris.”

“Oh, probably,” Sissy said. “I don’t know. Maybe when this is settled.”

“I’ll get our minions looking for something,” Sandy said.

Sissy nodded.

“When do you have to tell the ballet companies?” Aden asked.

“Next Friday,” Sissy said. “I was asked to join the Denver Ballet, and that would be fine. I would be home with my family and everything.”

“Denver’s not Paris,” Sandy said.

Sissy nodded.

“Got it,” Aden said.

“I know that I’m young,” Sissy said. “I. . . I mean. . . I really love Ivan. He’s been in my life for so long that even if we never marry and he dies, I will still feel a huge hole in my life. I will miss him the rest of my life. I just know it.”

“Why don’t we talk to him about that marriage thing?” Sandy asked.

“Would you do that?” Sissy asked.

“I’d do one better than that,” Sandy said with a smile. “I’ll get Nadia to talk to him. She’ll be furious that he is not getting the treatment due to the cost.”

“She’s really rich,” Sissy said.

“1% territory,” Aden said with a nod.

“I can see why she’d be mad,” Sissy said. “I think he just wants to stay in control. You know, he lost so many years in the gulag. When he got out, he wanted to control the rest of his life.”

“That does sound like Ivan,” Sandy said with a smile.

Sissy fell silent. Sandy looked at Aden.

“Thank you for telling us,” Aden said. “Why don’t we go find Delphie? I know that you’d rather know now than wait. Sandy will call Maresol and have her bring Ivan to the acupuncture clinic.”

Sissy nodded.

Aden leaned over and kissed Sandy’s cheek. Sissy got up from her seat. Sandy got up to hug Sissy, but she was so distraught that she missed Sandy’s gesture. Aden gave Sandy a soft smile and Sandy nodded. Aden put his arm over Sissy’s shoulders and led her out of the apartment.

Sandy sat back down at the table and started making calls.

The first person she called was Jill.

“Where are you?” Sandy asked.

“Where are you?” Jill asked.

“Our apartment,” Sandy said. “Can you come?”

“On my way,” Jill said. “Heather and Tanesha are here. Do you. . .?”

“Oh great,” Sandy said. “Can they come too?”

“On our way,” Heather and Tanesha said in the background.

“Thanks,” Sandy said. “Is your mom here?”

“She will be,” Jill said. “Why?”

“I’ll tell you everything when you get here,” Sandy said and hung up.

Sandy called Maresol, Seth O’Malley’s housekeeper, family, and dear friend.

“Maresol?” Sandy asked. “Can you bring Ivan to the acupuncture clinic here at the Castle?”

“Is that where Blane is?” Maresol asked. “I’ve been calling him and I can’t find him. I tried Heather but she’s not answering and I know that Harvest Day. . .”

“Blane holds a free medical clinic here at the Castle on Saturdays,” Sandy said. “Nelson and LaTonya are also there to see patients.”

“When should I bring him?” Maresol asked.

“As soon as you can,” Sandy said.

“He’s very sick, Sandy,” Maresol said. “He probably should be around a bunch of people.”

“I thought that he could see Jill and her mom, Mike, Steve, Megan — you know, get their opinion,” Sandy said. “Is Angelika there with you?”

“She is. Dionne, too,” Maresol said. “We’ll be there within the hour.”

“Call me when you get here,” Sandy said. “We’ll have it all worked out by then.”

“Got it,” Maresol said. “Did you ask about the cord blood?”

“I was just about to,” Sandy said.

“Okay,” Maresol said. “Good. See you soon.”

Sandy sat staring into space until Jill and the girlfriends arrived. She told them everything and they started making plans.

Denver Cereal continues next week...

 


Chapter Six Hundred and Sixty-one - Myeloma (part six)

CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY-ONE

(part six)

“I’d do one better than that,” Sandy said with a smile. “I’ll get Nadia to talk to him. She’ll be furious that he is not getting the treatment due to the cost.”

“She’s really rich,” Sissy said.

“1% territory,” Aden said with a nod.

“I can see why she’d be mad,” Sissy said. “I think he just wants to stay in control. You know, he lost so many years in the gulag. When he got out, he wanted to control the rest of his life.”

“That does sound like Ivan,” Sandy said with a smile.

Sissy fell silent. Sandy looked at Aden.

“Thank you for telling us,” Aden said. “Why don’t we go find Delphie? I know that you’d rather know now than wait. Sandy will call Maresol and have her bring Ivan to the acupuncture clinic.”

Sissy nodded.

Aden leaned over and kissed Sandy’s cheek. Sissy got up from her seat. Sandy got up to hug Sissy, but she was so distraught that she missed Sandy’s gesture. Aden gave Sandy a soft smile and Sandy nodded. Aden put his arm over Sissy’s shoulders and led her out of the apartment.

Sandy sat back down at the table and started making calls.

The first person she called was Jill.

“Where are you?” Sandy asked.

“Where are you?” Jill asked.

“Our apartment,” Sandy said. “Can you come?”

“On my way,” Jill said. “Heather and Tanesha are here. Do you. . .?”

“Oh great,” Sandy said. “Can they come too?”

“On our way,” Heather and Tanesha said in the background.

“Thanks,” Sandy said. “Is your mom here?”

“She will be,” Jill said. “Why?”

“I’ll tell you everything when you get here,” Sandy said and hung up.

Sandy called Maresol, Seth O’Malley’s housekeeper, family, and dear friend.

“Maresol?” Sandy asked. “Can you bring Ivan to the acupuncture clinic here at the Castle?”

“Is that where Blane is?” Maresol asked. “I’ve been calling him and I can’t find him. I tried Heather but she’s not answering and I know that Harvest Day. . .”

“Blane holds a free medical clinic here at the Castle on Saturdays,” Sandy said. “Nelson and LaTonya are also there to see patients.”

“When should I bring him?” Maresol asked.

“As soon as you can,” Sandy said.

“He’s very sick, Sandy,” Maresol said. “He probably should be around a bunch of people.”

“I thought that he could see Jill and her mom, Mike, Steve, Megan — you know, get their opinion,” Sandy said. “Is Angelika there with you?”

“She is. Dionne, too,” Maresol said. “We’ll be there within the hour.”

“Call me when you get here,” Sandy said. “We’ll have it all worked out by then.”

“Got it,” Maresol said. “Did you ask about the cord blood?”

“I was just about to,” Sandy said.

“Okay,” Maresol said. “Good. See you soon.”

Sandy sat staring into space until Jill and the girlfriends arrived. She told them everything and they started making plans.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday...