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Chapter Five Hundred and twenty-four : Dr. Nelson Weeks (part three)


(part three)

“Go,” Pierre said in French to Nelson. “Take them. I will deal with this.”

“But Papa!” Nelson said.

“Go to the basement,” Pierre said. “Take the children. I will deal with this.”

Nelson picked up the baby and grabbed onto the girls arm.

“Guy?” Pierre called as they neared the house.

Nelson stopped and looked at his father.

“Tu es mon coeur,” Pierre said, reminding his son of Pierre’s love for him.

Nelson nodded and ran into the house with the children. As soon as they were in the still quiet of the basement, the baby began to wail. Only a few years older than the baby, the girl shuffled to take care of the baby.

“I will do it,” Nelson said.

The girl looked at him in surprise. He realized that he must have mistakenly spoken in French. That hadn’t happened in years. Embarrassed, he shrugged.

“It’s okay,” Nelson said in English. “I’ll take care of him when you’re settled.”

He turned on the television and set it to the girl’s favorite cartoons. When she was settled in cozy blankets, he took the baby to the bathroom and undressed him. The baby was filthy. It had been at least a day since anyone had changed his diaper. Nelson peeled off layer after filthy layer of clothing. Once out of his wet, smelly clothing, the baby stopped crying. Nelson bathed the baby in the sink. They didn’t have diapers, so Nelson wrapped the child in towels at set him in the now dry sink.

To be sure, he ushered the girl into the bathroom. She was filthy too. He helped her out of her clothing. As she stepped into the shower, he saw that she was nearly a skeleton. While she showered, he warmed up towels in the dryer and found some of his old clothing for her to wear. He left the towels and the clothing on the toilet cover and took the baby out into the television room. When she came out, she was clean and starving.

He fed the children packets of oatmeal, beef jerkey, and cocoa from their camping supplies. He was making more cocoa in the microwave when he heard his father’s footsteps on the porch.

Nelson was frightened.

It wasn’t like his father not to come to see him. They were a team, a pair. His father cared for Nelson more than anyone or anything in his life. Yet his father was lingering on the porch! Nelson couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong.

Why didn’t his father come down to see him? To praise him for caring for these children? To help him with the baby?

Instead, his father paced back and forth on the front porch.

Nelson’s chest clenched with fear. The girl’s face reflected Nelson’s fear. The baby began to whimper.

Something different, something bad, was going on.

Nelson didn’t like it. Seeing the fear in the small children, Nelson did what his father did when Nelson was afraid. He put on a happy face. He finished making the cocoa and dug the last of the homemade strawberry ice cream from the freezer.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and twenty-four : Dr. Nelson Weeks (part two)


(part two)

Nelson was fast asleep in his bedroom when the sound of glass shattering awakened him.

The next door neighbor lady was screaming and breaking things. Again.

As he did every time he woke this way, he went to his window and looked out through the curtains. They lived in small houses situated right next to each other. There wasn’t any real sound insulation. He could tell before he opened the blinds that tonight was going to be a bad one.

He heard his father’s door open. His father came up behind Nelson. He put his hand on his son’s shoulder as they looked out Nelson’s window at the little house next door.

“Wait here,” Pierre said in French. “I will go take a look.”

Pierre turned to go.

“Papa!” Nelson said.

Nelson pointed out the window. Junior, his sister, and the toddler boy were looking out at Nelson from the bathroom window on the second floor.

“Papa!” Nelson pleaded.

Pierre sighed. From where they stood, they could hear the mother banging on the bathroom door and screaming like a banshee.

“Put on your shoes,” Pierre commanded in French.

Nelson pulled on his Converse All-Stars. For good measure, he pulled his bathrobe over his pajamas. Pierre took Nelson’s hand, and they ran to stand under the bathroom window. Junior pushed up the double hung window. For a moment, Junior’s panicked eyes locked on Nelson’s.

Nelson’s life was mostly devoid of drama. They lived a sedate, structured life of intellectuals. Nelson did what was expected of him, and Pierre loved him. Nelson got up at the same time every day. He went to bed at the same time every day. They ate at “meal times” and had pizza every Friday.

Outside of Pierre’s struggle with tobacco, their lives were free of conflict. Nelson had no experience with the kind of drama that had started to happen next door.

With Junior’s look, Nelson felt flooded with Junior’s desperation.

“Il est terrifie,” Nelson told his father that Junior was terrified.

“Oui,” Pierre nodded to Nelson. Looking up to the window, Pierre spoke in unaccented English to Junior, “Throw the baby, then your sister. You know how to climb down?”

Junior’s head nodded.

“Do it now!” Pierre commanded.

Junior grabbed the toddler by the straps of his overalls. The baby hung in the air for a moment before dropping into Nelson’s arms. Nelson set him down.

They heard wood splinter. Junior and his sister turned to look behind them.

“Now,” Pierre commanded.

Junior pushed his sister out of the window. Always strong, Nelson easily caught the girl. Junior hurled himself out the window. He almost made it, but a large hand wrapped itself around his leg.

Shock and horror fixed on Junior’s face. Nelson felt the full force of his friend’s terror. The furious woman pulled her son back into the bathroom. They heard to boy scream with pain as the blows rained down on him.

“Go,” Pierre said in French to Nelson. “Take them. I will deal with this.”

“But Papa!” Nelson said.

“Go to the basement,” Pierre said. “Take the children. I will deal with this.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and twenty-four : Dr. Nelson Weeks (part one)


(part one)

“Shall we continue?” Hedone asked.

Dr. Nelson Weeks looked at the floor of the odd medical exam room. After a moment, he glanced at Jackson “Jax” Theriol, who had come back from the grave to help him. Jax gave Nelson a cocky grin. Nelson looked at Hedone and nodded.

Ten year old Nelson was standing with his hands on his hips as he evaluated the creation in front of him. He and the next door neighbor boy, Junior, were making a snowman. The younger, red-haired boy was rolling the final ball of snow for the head. When he got close, Nelson bent down to help the boy lift the ball of snow.

The ball was too heavy. In a gale of laughter, the boys fell over into the snow. Junior’s sister was sitting in the snow making snowballs in preparation for their “epic” snowball fight.

They’d spent the last week working on snowmen in the morning and watching cartoons in the afternoon. Nelson was getting paid to watch Junior and his sister while their mom was on bed rest for another baby. Junior’s father traveled for work so they never knew when he’d be home. Nelson was on child duty regardless. Right now, Nelson’s father and Junior’s father were drinking beer and watching the children from the porch of Nelson’s house.

“Ut,” Nelson’s father, Pierre, said from the porch. “Attends une minute!”

Pierre yelled for the boys to wait. He ran to the boys. He made a show of struggling to lift the ball. Junior’s father ran to aid Pierre. Laughing the entire time, the two men put the head on the snowman.

Junior’s father pulled a carrot out of his pocket. Pierre took two pieces of coal out for the eyes of the snowman. Junior’s father stuck the nose in the middle of the snowman’s face. Pierre put the pieces of coal in the snowman for eyes. Excited, Nelson and Junior were jumping up and down. Pierre snatched Nelson’s hat off his head and stuck it on the snowman.

Everyone laughed. Pierre put his arm over his son’s shoulder and they surveyed their work. There was a noise from inside the next-door neighbor’s house. Junior’s mother came out to say something like “It’s time.”

The dance of labor had begun. Junior and his sister did their part by scooting over to Nelson’s house. Pierre ushered the children inside the house for afternoon cartoons.

“Michael and your father were good friends,” Jax said in an even voice.

Nelson looked at Jax but didn’t respond.

“Do you remember playing with M.J.?” Hedone asked.

“Sort of,” Nelson said. “I remember that we were friends. I mean, we used to play together. I was his babysitter for … Gosh, a long time. He was a lot younger. I mean at that age, even a couple of years feels like decades. ”

“What happened?” Jax asked.

“He changed,” Nelson said. His voice became hard. “Became the homophobic prick you know today.”

“Let’s take a look,” Hedone said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and twenty-three : ...and a dance with the ghosts of the past (part six)


(part six)

“Leave him with me,” an elderly woman said.

She held her arms out to take the baby. The father jerked his wheelchair away from the woman. The infant was sound asleep on Nelson’s father Pierre Semaine’s lap. Pierre’s legs and arms were in casts. His face was covered in gouges and scratches. His head was wrapped in gauze. His eyes were glassy as if he were ill or in terrible pain.

“I will take care of my own child!” Nelson’s father, Peirre Semaines, said to an elderly woman.

“You are a young man,” the elderly woman said. “What will you do with a child?”

“I will love him,” Pierre Semaines said.

The elderly woman clucked and shook her head.

“You cannot have him,” Pierre Semaines said.

The elderly woman leaned over to look at the sleeping baby.

“He looks just like my daughter,” the elderly woman said, in a soft voice.

“He is all I have of …” Pierre said. “I will do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes … He is my child. My blessing. He belongs with me.”

Time seemed to pass at double speed. The young father and the infant stayed in the hospital. The child was cared for by the nurses and his father. Slowly, Pierre began to heal.

The elderly woman continued to pester Pierre for the child. Pierre remained firm.

“My child belongs with me,” Pierre said.

As soon as Pierre was able to walk, he left the hospital with his child. He went straight to the airport where he boarded a plane to Denver, Colorado where he’d found an entry level engineer job at Martin Marietta.

They were back in the white exam room with the blue sky ceiling. Nelson stumbled and Jax caught him.

“I know that woman,” Nelson said. “She …”

Nelson looked at Hedone.

“Is that possible?” Nelson asked.

“Of course,” Hedone said.

“She came to the house,” Nelson said. “Once, twice … She was there when …”

Nelson shook his head and covered his eyes. Jax looked at Hedone.

“His grandmother was at the house when Michael’s wife informed his father that Guy was gay,” Jax said. “It’s a part of his story — this crazy old lady that started screeching in French at Guy and his father. She’s a part of this story.”

“Why?” Hedone asked.

“She went crazy,” Nelson said. “She screeched at me in French. Hit me. Hard. Across the face and neck. Spit at me. Then she started hitting my father. My father was so angry, enraged. He went ballistic. At me. At M.J.’s mother. He kept saying …”

Nelson gasped. His fist went to his mouth and he bit his finger.

“What is it?” Hedone asked.

“He wasn’t speaking to me,” Nelson said. “He was talking to her! I thought … I thought … Oh, God …”

Denver Cereal continues next week…

Chapter Five Hundred and twenty-three : ...and a dance with the ghosts of the past (part five)


(part five)

“Wow,” Nelson whispered. “My father looks so young.”

“Is that your mother?” Jax asked.

“I don’t know,” Nelson said. He walked up to where she was sitting and leaned down to see her face. “I guess so. I’ve never seen her before.”

“She is very beautiful,” Hedone said. “So full of love. Life. She truly loves you.”

“Sometimes, when I sleep, I have this feeling …” Nelson said. “I can hear her voice.”

Nelson hummed a soft tune.

“Dodo l’enfant do,” Jax said.

Nelson looked at Jax and then at Hedone.

“It’s a French lullaby,” Hedone said. “Very traditional.”

Nelson’s hand went to cover his mouth.

“She probably sang it to you,” Jax said. “You’ve never seen her before?”

“Dad didn’t keep photos of her,” Nelson said. “He’s such a bastard that he…”

Nelson looked up at Hedone and looked back at the couple in front of them.

“He’s so young, so beautiful here,” Nelson said. “Happy. I think that’s him but I …”

The mother’s head jerked up. Her nostrils flared as a man walked down the hall. She squinted. By instinct, she turns grabbed the child and wrapped her body him. Before the father can react, a bomb went off in the baggage compartment behind them. The man and the woman were blown forward into the empty chair in front of them. Somehow, the woman’s body ended up between the man and the bomb. When they landed, the baby was tucked between the woman’s abdomen and the man’s abdomen.

The woman’s head had been sliced in half by a piece of metal from the baggage compartment. Her most of body was shredded by tiny pieces of the metal shrapnel. Only her belly and lap surrounding the baby remained intact. The father was knocked out cold from the shock. His legs and arms were broken.

Miraculously, the baby was uninjured. Startled by the bomb, the baby began to wail.

The scene changed back to the white medical exam room.

“Oh my God,” Nelson whispered. “Oh my God.”

Visibly shaken, Nelson dropped down on the low stool.

“March 29, 1982 on the Capitale,” Jax said evenly.

“Carlos the Jackal,” Nelson said. He glanced at Hedone. “I watched the hearings on French television the first year I was at Denver Health.”

“Your father testified,” Hedone said, evenly.

“He … What?” Nelson broke down.

Jax grabbed him. Nelson wept into Jax’s arms. Jax looked at Hedone, and she nodded. They had time for Nelson to cry.

“I don’t know why I’m crying,” Nelson said. “I don’t remember any of that. I never saw her, met her … It’s him! I never saw him without a sneer on his face. He hated me. Always. Nothing I did was good enough for him. He …”

Nelson looked at Hedone.

“He is my dark space,” Nelson said.

“One of them,” Hedone said. “Let’s take a look.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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