Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Celia's Puppies, Chapter Thirty-one: No reason to freak out (part one)


(part one)

No reason to freak out

Tuesday night — 7:30 P.M.

Mike’s face registered shock then hardened. His look would terrify an adult let alone a small child. Valerie pushed him away from Katy.

“When did he tell you, honey?” Ever the actress, Valerie kept her voice friendly and almost happy.

“Well, I have a Jill doll,” Katy said. She looked over at her beautiful Auntie and smiled. Valerie smiled in return. “You haven’t met her. Mommy got me the doll when I was about one year old. She works some nights and I stay with Aunt Megan. Have you met Aunt Megan?”

“I have,” Valerie said. She touched Katy’s wet hair. “I like your Aunt Megan.”

“I like Aunt Megan too. A lot. But she’s not Mommy,” Katy said. “I was really sad when Mommy wasn’t with me. Mommy found a Jill doll. It looks sort of like Mommy and it has her recorded voice. My Jill doll usually says, ‘Love you Katy-baby’ or ‘Sweet Katherine’ or this little poem Mommy says before bed or ‘Mommy misses you’ or… I think that’s all. I like the ‘Love you Katy-baby’ the best. I press past the other ones so I can hear that the most when I’m sad.”

Valerie looked to Mike. He nodded. Katy and her Jill doll were almost never apart.

“But I haven’t been sad in a long time.” Katy stared off into space. “Since before we went to the zoo. My Jill doll was in my old room. When Mommy was in the shower, I found my Jill doll.”

“What did the Jill doll have to say?” Valerie asked in her light happy voice.

“It was my old Daddy. He said he was coming to get me and I would live with him forever,” Katy said. “Scooter growled and barked when the Jill doll talked like that. Scooter was so mad that I hid the doll. I don’t want Scooter to be mad.”

“Did the Jill doll say anything else?” Mike growled. Valerie scowled at him over Katy’s head. He shrugged.

“I didn’t hear, Uncle Mike.”

“Because of Scooter?”

“Uh huh.” Katy finished her hot chocolate. “He’s coming to get me.”

Valerie reached around Katy to hold Mike’s hand. Mike looked caught somewhere between rage and despair.

“More cocoa?” Valerie asked.

“Yes please,” Katy said.

Valerie took Katy and Mike’s mug and went into the small apartment kitchen. Katy sighed.

“Are you mad?” Katy asked Mike.

“Worried,” Mike said.

“Scares me. More than a little bit,” Katy said. “I have a new Daddy. I haven’t seen the other Daddy in forever. He didn’t want to ever BE my Daddy. Why won’t he leave me alone!?”

“I wish I knew, honey,” Mike said. His face softened. “But I’ll tell you this. No one is going to keep you away from your Mommy. Your old Daddy doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.”

“Oh,” Katy’s eyes welled with tears. “I don’t want to live with him, Uncle Mike.”

Mike pulled Katy on his lap. Rocking her back and forth while Katy cried, Mike made a plan. No one was going to steal his Katy and hold her captive.

No one.

The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…

Celia's Puppies, Chapter Thirty: Sheer brilliance (part seven)


(part seven)

“Did you see her?” Delphie asked.

Jacob nodded.

“Did she…”

“She misses you, Dad, and us,” Jacob said. “She said you, Dad and she belonged together like me and Jill, me and Val, Val and Mike, and Jill and Mike. That’s what I remember. The four of us. The three of you.”

“Does she know…?”

“About you and Dad?” Jacob asked. “She isn’t upset or jealous. I think she loves both of you so completely that your relationship makes more sense to her than to either of you. Mom is… such a great being, so loving, so kind. I think all of that couldn’t be held in by a physical body.”

Delphie cried in earnest at his words. Jacob sat holding her hand and watching the fire. After a few moments, her tears began to slow.

“I usually feel so close to her, but since you were injured… It’s like she’s mad at me that I let you get injured or…”

“She’s been with me,” Jacob said. “I’m… Well, I’m not as well as I look.”

Embarrassed by her display of sadness, Delphie wiped her eyes. She drained her tea cup.

“Why don’t you go and talk to her?” Jacob asked. “She’s right here.”

“Thanks,” Delphie said. “Can I get you more tea?”

“I’d love some, but I can get some myself. Go talk to Mom,” Jacob said. “I didn’t tell you anything you don’t know.”

Delphie gave a slight nod.

“Do you think of me as a kind of parent?”

“You’re my Delphie,” Jacob said.

“Sam said you and Val were always our kids – mine, Celia’s and Sam’s. I…”

“That’s true,” Jacob said.

“So Katy’s mine too? I’m her…”

“Grand-Delphie,” Jacob said.

Delphie smiled.

“Love you, Jakey.”

“Love you too.”

Delphie went to the door of the room. She stopped for a moment at the door. Turning to look back into the room, she was about to ask another question. Deciding against it, she went to her room to ask Celia instead.


Tuesday night — 7:30 P.M.

“Uncle Mike? When does Mommy come home?” Katy asked.

“You just asked that, sweetie,” Mike said.

He and Katy had spent the night playing Legos, laughing, and watching cartoons. He was giving her a bath.

“Before I go to sleep,” Katy said. “Like always. Except when I stay with Aunt Megan.”

“Right,” Mike said.

“If I tell you something, will you promise not to tell Mommy?” Katy took the wash cloth from Mike to scrub her face while Mike washed her hair.

“Nope,” Mike said. “There’s nothing that you should ever keep from your Mom.”

“But if I tell her, she will cry and cry and cry,” Katy said. “I hate it when Mommy cries.”


Katy closed her eyes so Mike could rinse her with the hand held tub sprayer.

“All done?” Mike asked.

Katy nodded.

After letting the water out of the tub, Mike wrapped Katy in a bath sheet. He carried her out into the sitting area of his and Valerie’s apartment. Valerie waited for them with mugs of hot chocolate.

“You can tell us anything. And we will always love you no matter what. But we won’t promise not to tell your Mommy,” Mike said.

Valerie took Mike’s warm bundle of Katy and rubbed her dry. While Katy weighed her options on her fingers, Valerie helped her into her pajamas. Valerie had just finished combing Katy’s wet hair when Katy sighed.

“Ok, I’ll tell you,” Katy said. “You know how I had another Daddy?”

“Uh huh,” Mike said.

He lifted Katy onto the couch then gave her a mug of hot chocolate. Valerie smiled when he gave her a mug of cocoa. He winked at Valerie.

“Well, he’s going to take me away from Mommy and make me live with him. I won’t ever SEE Mommy again.”

“Why do you say that, honey?” Mike asked.

“He told me.”

The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…

Celia's Puppies, Chapter Thirty: Sheer brilliance (part six)


(part six)

Tuesday evening — 6:35 P.M.

“How are you feeling?”

Delphie poked her head into the room. Sitting in a high backed chair in front of a raging fire, Jacob had been working on his laptop. Sarah, his yellow Labrador, was sleeping in front of the roaring fire in the ornate tile fireplace. Sighing, Jacob set the computer on the marble coffee table in front of him. Delphie came in the sitting room carrying two cups of tea.

“All right,” he said. “The acupuncture helps with the pain but I’m so tired and cold.”

He pointed to the fire.

“The fire light is nice,” Delphie said. “Even in summer.”

“That trainer? Valerie Waters? She had me ride the exercise bike, low speed for twenty minutes. I thought I was going to die.”

“It’s a long way back,” Delphie said.

She gave him the cup of tea.

“Thanks,” he said. “I can only sleep a few hours at a time. But I sleep like forty times a day.”

“What does the doctor say?” Delphie asked.

“Oh.” Jacob took a drink of tea. “I think they’re so used to seeing really sick people. If you’re moderately ill or better at all, you’re a miracle.”

“It is a miracle how well you’ve healed,” Delphie said. “You’re not even wearing your neck brace.”

“Only when I lay down,” he said. “Blane’s acupuncture and herbs are the miracle. Most of my bandages are off. The drains are out.”

Delphie gave a slight nod.

“You seem blue, Delphie,” Jacob said. “Is all this chaos too much? You’ve been caring for all these kids. Are we taking too much from you?”

“The children are a joy,” Delphie said.

“Clients?” Jacob asked.

Delphie shook her head.

“Come on, Delphinium. It’s me. Your Jakey. What’s going on?”

“I miss your mother.”

Delphie sat down in a wing back chair next to him. He held out his left hand which she took. They sat for a moment contemplating the fire.

“When you were… on the other side…” Delphie started then stopped. She turned from the fire to look at him.


“Your mother missed everything. She wanted so badly for you and Jill to get together. She loved Mike so much. She wanted Val and Mike to live their happily ever after. And Katy? She reminds me so much of Celia. She has her light and her temper.”

“Yeah,” Jacob said. “I don’t see it. When I look at her, I see Trevor’s dark eyes on her happy, bright face. The volunteers at the zoo said she looked just like Mom.”

“Maybe that’s it.” Delphie nodded as if she could see what the zoo volunteers meant. “I love Katy, just love her and I only met her a week ago!”

Delphie wiped her eyes. They watched the fire.

“Your mother would have adored that child. All of the pain, all of the work, all of the worry, and she missed the best part.” Tears dropped from Delphie’s eyes. “She should be here. She made all of this happen.”

“You do her a disservice to think she’s still not making this happen,” Jacob said.

Delphie nodded.

“Did you see her?” Delphie asked.

The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…

Celia's Puppies, Chapter Thirty: Sheer brilliance (part five)


(part five)

“Bitch and Trevor didn’t do anything to her stuff?”

“Not that we can tell,” Jill replied. “She and her little friend Pat played together in her room until late. She fell asleep. I had to wait until the police were done. They finished up about 1:30 AM. I took Katy to the Castle. She seemed happy to be at the Castle in the morning. The police checked her room today. Nothing.”

“Why did they leave her stuff alone?” Sandy asked.

“Honestly?” Jill asked. “I think he’s going to try to get custody.”


Sandy was so disturbed by the idea that she began working on Jill’s hair. She sprayed abundant conditioner then tried to work her wide tooth comb through the mess.

“He doesn’t want her because he loves her or values her or thinks she’s an amazing human being or…”

“Jill. Why would Trevor want Katy?”

“Money,” they said together.

“Either child support or a pay off. I don’t know,” Jill said. “They told Mike that he and his bride would be arrested when they come back to Denver so… I’m sure he’ll say it wasn’t his fault.”

“Jill,” Sandy stopped working. She held Jill’s eyes in the mirror. “You have to have the doctor check out these burns.”

“I did. Jacob put me on his insurance plan. I went to see her today.” Jill visibly brightened. “I even took Katy to an allergy doctor. Blane thinks acupuncture might help. I was surprised when the doctor thought the acupuncture was a great idea. The doctor suggested…”

“Jill,” Sandy interrupted Jill. Jill was chattering to avoid dealing with her own pain, her own injury. “What about the burns?”

“Oh.” Jill’s face dropped with sorrow. “She gave me some ointment for the burns. Blane gave me some Chinese stuff too.”

Sandy’s face was a mask of pain as she attempted to work with what was left of Jill’s hair.

“Birth control?”

“The pill. And about a billion blood tests they do automatically for Lipson Construction,” Jill said. “No IUD because I used to get those bad cramps.”

“You’re going back on the pill?”

“Yep. Trevor always said they made me a depressed bitch but…”

“He just said that to control when you got pregnant,” Sandy said. “The IUD was sheer brilliance.”

“He never knew.”

Jill’s eyes caught Sandy’s in the mirror. Together, they had solved almost every problem in their lives. Jill knew that Sandy would be able to fix this one too.

“I’m sorry, honey. I’m going to have to shave off most of your hair. All of the backand most of the front. I…”

Jill’s eyes welled with tears. Giving Jill a box of Kleenex, Sandy went to work.

The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…

Celia's Puppies, Chapter Thirty: Sheer brilliance (part four)


(part four)

“Julie would absolutely die if that happened to her,” Colin said of his wife.

Mike stopped walking at the traffic light on First Street. He watch a couple other soldiers jump out of the helicopter. One of the men waved at him.

“I think it will catch up to her,” Mike said.

“Well, Trevor and his gal would do well to stay out of the country,” Colin said.

“We can only hope,” Mike said.

The men crossed the street toward the Mall, and the helicopter.

“In you go, my friend,” Colin said.

Mike stepped up into the helicopter. While his eyes adjusted from the bright sun to the dark interior of the helicopter, Colin pushed him into an empty seat.

“What’s going on? Shit, you’re wearing your dress uniform too.”

“Yes, Sergeant Roper,” Alex Hargreaves said. “We have an appointment at Fort Carson. We picked up your dress uniform at the Castle. I think Mac Clenaghan has it.”

She pointed toward her second in command, Captain Mac Clenaghan. He held up Mike’s dress uniform.


“Lieutenant Colonel Hargreaves.” The man sitting next to him hit his shoulder. “Have some respect.”

“Sir, I am needed at home,” Mike said. “You know what happened to Jill and…”

“We would all like to be at home, Sergeant,” Alex said. “Frankly, my better-halves are backpacking right now.”

“That’s right! You, Max and John were going to the Black Canyon. How come…”

“Because someone is being interviewed by Oprah in less than two days.”

“Ah crap,” Mike asked.

“Command would like to have a word with you,” Alex said. “We are on fetch and babysit duty. All week. Buckle up.”

The helicopter lifted off from the parking lot and made its way toward Fort Carson, Colorado.


Tuesday evening — 6:00 P.M.

“How does it look?” Jill asked.

Sandy unwrapped the bandana Jill had tied around her head. Sandy’s face went white from shock to red with rage. They were alone at Sandy’s station. Jacob had arranged the appointment with Sandy, and since her schedule was always over-booked, she agreed to stay late to work on Jill.

“Trevor did this?” she asked.

“Actually, his new wife,” Jill said. “Or at least her finger prints were on the bottle. Trevor used to tease me about the conditioner, so I’m sure it was his idea. He knew how hard it was to grow my hair out.”

“What was it? Acid?”

Sandy picked through what was left Jill’s hair. Jill had burns on her neck and scalp in places. Sandy had never seen anything this awful.

“Yeah, some kind of acid,” Jill said. “It burned my back a little bit too.”

Jill pointed to a spot on her back. Sandy pulled Jill’s tank top back to look at her back.

“I wondered why you weren’t wearing a bra.”

“I can’t fasten it,” Jill said.

“Oh God, Jill,” Sandy said. “Why didn’t you call me? I was at home.”

“I didn’t want Katy to know. She’s been through so much. She was so excited to be home with her toys.”

The retelling of Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2, continues tomorrow…

For full chapters, visit Stories by Claudia