CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and TWENTY-SIX
“My Twitter friends say that you should have left him the last time,” a young woman said from the back of the bus. Reading her phone, she said, “A leopard doesn’t change his stripes.”
“Zebra,” Fin said using “zed” for the “z” instead of “zee.”
“What?” the young woman asked. “What’s that?”
“A zebra doesn’t change his stripes,” Fin said.
“Yeah, but what’s a zebra?” the young woman said.
“He means ‘zeebra,’” a man seated nearby said. “He’s from England.”
“I am most certainly not from En-gland,” Fin said with disdain. “I am from the Isle of Man. I am Manx.”
“Like the Bee Gees?” another woman asked. “They were Manx too.”
Tanesha bit her lip to keep from laughing. Fin looked at her. Shaking his head at her glee, he snapped his fingers and everyone went back to their own thoughts.
They settled in for a few minutes.
“What am I going to do?” Tanesha whispered to Fin.
“About what?” Fin asked.
“The reporters,” Tanesha said.
“You will do what you always do,” Fin said. “Grace and power. That’s my granddaughter.”
He put his arm around her shoulder. The bus pulled up at the medical complex in Aurora. Reporters, photographers, and videographers surrounded the bus.
Tanesha stepped out into the mess.
“I would like to say something,” Tanesha said.
It took a moment before everyone settled down. Fin stood so that her back pressed into his chest.
“I was on the bus today — getting myself mentally prepared to assist doctors and nurses in their fight to save lives — when I was informed of some photographic nonsense,” Tanesha said. “I was on the street when that picture was taken. A dear friend of ours came to the house for our help. Her husband is deployed. She’s raising two children alone while her husband fights for our country.”
“But the photo shows…” a reporter yelled.
“Jeraine hugged our friend because she was upset and overwhelmed,” Tanesha said. “This shit is real. People are dying. It’s likely that each of us, including you, will have a moment when we are stretched beyond what we can handle. Hopefully, someone will care enough to reach out.”
“He was naked, Miss T,” the reporter in front of her said.
“I was there,” Tanesha said. “My cousin and I were walking back from the bus. I can assure you that he only had his top off. He was hot because he was helping to build greenhouses. They are growing food for people out of work and hungry. That’s all.”
Tanesha took a breath and continued.
“This photo, that looks so provocative to some, is really where we all should be,” Tanesha said. Swallowing hard, she continued. “We should all be exhausted from our work in the service of our neighbors, holding onto each other in comfort and love. This photo is a photo of the pandemic.”
“It’s not romantic or sexy or anything other than human kindness,” Tanesha said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, my cousin and I are due for our shift at the hospital.”
Tanesha pushed her way through the reporters and entered the hospital. Fin put his arm around her.
“Cousin?” Fin asked.
Laughing, they walked to the ward together.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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