“But the shows are still at the new casino?” Hedone asked in Tanesha’s voice. “Matt’s place?”
“We think so,” Jeraine said. “Jeanie wants to create a festival with shows at her casino and Matt’s at the very least. Or something. I didn’t get the details. Did you?”
“I don’t think there were details,” Hecate said. “It just sounded like Jeanie had thought a lot about what she wanted her empire to look like. Letting you go and build a show somewhere else is really a factor of the mess in Jeanie’s life. In a year or so, when she’s got everything sorted out, she’s going to do bigger things.”
“Which she wants me to be a part of,” Jeraine said.
“Yes, she does,” Hecate said.
“We toured the space — Matt’s space at his casino,” Jeraine said, skipping ahead. “It’s just an empty space. I gave him my sketches, you know, the ones Jill helped me with. He had a lot of questions. I thought that you could help me, Miss T. I don’t want to screw it up.”
“Oh, Jeraine, you won’t screw it up,” Hecate said in Tanesha’s voice.
“See, that’s not something Tanesha would say,” Jeraine said.
“What would she say?” Hecate asked.
“She’d say, ‘You’d better not screw up,’” Jeraine said. “Or something like that.”
“How do you feel when she says that?” Hecate asked.
“Like she’s speaking the truth,” Jeraine said with a laugh.
“So how did you end up in this apartment?” Hecate asked.
“Condo,” Jeraine said. “They are called condominiums.”
“What’s the difference?” Hecate asked.
“Who knows?” Jeraine asked. “I just couldn’t believe that they gave this to us. Jeanie and Matt gave me this condo as a ‘sorry for the hassle’ present. Jammy says that this thing is worth at least a million cash.”
Hecate had no grasp of money so she shrugged.
“What’s the condo like?” Hecate asked in Tanesha’s voice.
“It’s got a nice master bedroom,” Jeraine said. “There’s two extra bedrooms — one for Jabari and another for guests or whoever. It’s right on the strip but high enough to be really quiet. There’s this gorgeous view of the mountains. So pretty. You’ll love it.”
Hecate smiled at Jeraine.
“What?” he asked.
“It is nice,” Hecate said with a nod. “You forgot the gym.”
“24 hour spa,” Jeraine said.
“That’s free for you,” Hecate said.
“So what’s the problem?” Hecate asked.
“I just lost everything. Like a minute ago,” Jeraine said. “All of the sudden. I mean it wasn’t all of the sudden it just felt that way to me. And now …”
“If you accumulate all of this, it might go away,” Hecate said.
“Exactly,” Jeraine said.
“It is the nature of things,” Hecate said. “The moon sends the tides far inland and also out into the deep sea.”
“Things come and go,” Jeraine said.
“Exactly,” Hecate said. “Why not enjoy it while it’s here?”
Jeraine rotated his head to look at her. She nodded.
“You’re not going to say that whole — ‘Human life is so short that you can’t fathom the ebb and flow of life’?”
“I wasn’t planning on it,” Hecate said. “Should I?”
Jeraine sat up. He looked at Jammy.
“It does sound pretty good, doesn’t it?” Jeraine asked.
“I think so,” Hecate said.
The phone to the condo rang. Hecate got up to answer it. She spoke for a minute or so before bringing the phone over to Jeraine.
“It’s Tanesha,” Hecate said. “She said that she tried to call you but your phone was busy. She got the condo number from her friend, Jeanie Jeanson, who wears jeans.”
Jeraine chuckled and took the phone.
“Just tell her like you told me,” Hecate whispered.
Hecate gave him a big smile. Still imitating Tanesha’s voice, she said, “How was Jeanie Jeanson?”
“She was lovely. Truly love. I was surprised, you know because she married that jerk. But she had this joyful energy,” Jeraine said. “She took my elbow, and we walked into the restaurant together. She was really big — you know, loud voice and big words and gestures and stuff — outside and before we were escorted to our table. Once we got there, she was all business. I was … Uh … I don’t know if I should say this.”
He turned his head to look at her.
“Say what?” Hecate asked.
“Well, she acted like such a ditz when we were going inside and then she was brutally smart and nice,” Jeraine said.
“She was smart and nice,” Hecate said.
“You don’t think Tanesha would say that people can be smart and big?” Jeraine asked.
“I think Tanesha will know what you mean and appreciate hearing about it,” Hedone said in her own voice. “Especially since you really liked Smart Jeanie. She treated you like you were smart, a real professional, which was refreshing. You and she talked back and forth until Jammy took over the business talk.”
“Hmm,” Jeraine said with a nod. “I didn’t realize that she had already talked to Jammy’s friend Matt. Do we know his last name?”
“Are you asking me or Tanesha?” Hecate asked.
“You,” Jeraine said. “I don’t know it so it’s unlikely that Tanesha would.”
“She could have looked it up,” Hecate said.
“She’s in school,” Jeraine said. “That takes up most of her brain. It’s hard stuff. She doesn’t have time or space to look up other stuff.”
Hecate nodded. Jeraine forgot what they were talking about so he fell silent.
“Fromm,” Hecate said.
“Fromm what?” Jeraine asked.
“Matt and Helen’s last name,” Hecate said.
“How did you know?” Jeraine asked.
Hecate pointed to an advertisement that said: “Helen Fromm for mayor, Working for the people of Las Vegas since 2006.” She put her hand on his shoulder. He looked up at the ad and shook his head.
“That’s her last name,” Jeraine said.
“Oh,” Hecate said. “How do you know?”
“His name is Matt, short for Matthew,” Jeraine said.
“So?” Hecate asked.
“He was a disciple of Jesus,” Jeraine said. “Fromm is a Jewish name.”
Hecate shook her head.
“What?” Jeraine asked.
“I keep forgetting,” Hecate said with a shrug. “Jesus, Moses. It all runs together for me.”
“I bet,” Jeraine said.
His head returned to the table.
“Matt’s last name is Fromm,” Jammy said from the living room. “His father was Jewish. His mother Christian. For the Orthodox, Matt’s not Jewish because his mother wasn’t born Jewish. She converted before she married his father. Her father’s name was Matthew. That’s how you end up with Jewish boy named ‘Matt’.”
Jeraine laughed when he saw Hecate’s pinched face. Jammy turned to look at what Jeraine was laughing at.
“She can’t keep Jesus or Moses …”
“Buddha, Confucius, Muhammed …” Hecate lifted a shoulder in a shrug.
“Is your mother a ‘real’ Jew?” Jeraine asked.
“Yes,” Jammy said with a shake of his head. “All the way back to Moses.”
Jammy grinned at Hecate. She shrugged. Jeraine’s phone rang, and Jammy picked it up. They smiled at Jammy
“We were practicing talking to Tanesha,” Hecate said. “So you talked to Matt Fromm.”
“Yea, right,” Jeraine said, his forehead pressed against the table again. “Jeanie and Matt are going to produce my shows together in some kind of arrangement between the casinos. People can get casino deals at both places or whatever.”
Jeraine’s agent, James “Jammy” Schmidt V, picked it up. Jeraine watched Jammy talk to another African-American artist. Jeraine’s phone started ringing off the hook within thirty seconds of the new casino announcing that they’d signed a contract with Jeraine. At first, it was mostly artists calling to congratulate Jeraine. Their agents followed up with official calls. The agency that represented a large number of famous artists already had agents on the plane to meet with them.
It was overwhelming.
Jeraine was having an “iffy” head day so Jammy was taking the calls. Jeraine sat in this hard kitchen chair watching Jammy. He was sitting at the kitchen table of the casino’s brand new condos that he was given …
His brain fritzed.
Hecate set a glass of water next to him and took his hand.
“You’re panicking,” Hecate said. “Let’s breathe and calm down a bit.”
Jeraine gave her a wide eyes look. She nodded, and his head mimicked her gesture.
“Dream c-c-c …” Jeraine dropped his forehead onto the table. The table was deliciously cool and seemed to ease the pain.
“Drink your water,” Hecate said. She patted her hand on the table.
He looked up at her. She nodded. A little frightened of the power that came off this woman, he drank the water. She got up and filled the glass again. He drank it again.
“It’s terrifying when our dreams come true,” Hecate said as she sat down.
“Look like come … true,” Jeraine said.
“Well, yes,” Hecate said. “It does look like your dreams are coming true.”
Hecate nodded. His head still down on the table, he nodded. He pointed to her.
“You do this?” Jeraine asked.
“No,” Hecate said with a laugh. “You did this.”
Jeraine’s index finger pointed to himself.
“You’ve mended bridges,” Hecate said. “Over your long career, you’ve given a lot of people their first breaks. I think everyone has watched you rebuild your life with Tanesha and start a new kind of career. Your hard work is its own kind of magic. You’ve created that magic through changing your life, taking responsibility, and generally reforming your life.”
Jeraine responded to her words with a groan.
“Let’s walk through it,” Hecate said. “Just pretend you’re talking to Tanesha. Visualize her face. See her hair, her lips, her lovely, bright eyes, that beautiful skin.”
“Okay,” Jeraine said. “Hi Miss T.”
“What happened today?” Hecate asked in an imitation of Tanesha’s voice.
Jeraine rotated his head to be sure it wasn’t Tanesha. Grinning, Hecate shrugged. Jeraine put his head back on the table.
“We went to breakfast with Jeannie,” Jeraine said. “Her name is Jeanie Jeanson or it was before she got married. I thought you’d laugh when you heard her two Jeans. She was even wearing jeans!”
Jeraine grinned at the floor. He turned his head to look at Hecate.
“Tanesha loves that kind of stuff,” Jeraine said. “People with two first names – Craig Scott, Shirley Jacob – that kind of thing. And her wearing jeans. She’ll laugh.”
Hecate gave him a big smile. Still imitating Tanesha’s voice, she said, “How was Jeanie Jeanson?”
“Actually, our solution was …” Sam said as he came around the corner, “ … for me to drive you up to the cabin. Make sure you have everything you need and come home.”
“Right now?” Jacob asked. “What about?”
Two men came in the room. They nodded to Jacob and started installing the cabinet. Jacob gawked at them.
“Come on, son,” Sam said.
Sam put his arm over Jacob’s shoulder and walked him out to Sam’s truck.
“What about my gear?” Jacob asked.
“Jill packed it last night,” Sam said. “I grabbed your fishing gear. Blane got your camping gear. Satellite phone.”
Jacob stood at the door to the truck’s passenger seat. He noticed that his yellow Labrador, Sarah, was in the back seat.
“But …” Jacob said.
“You know what convinced me that you needed this?” Sam asked.
“How?” Jacob looked at his father.
“You stopped having breakfast with Blane, Aden, and me,” Sam said.
“I had breakfast with you …” Jacob looked offended.
“That was a month ago,” Sam said.
“Really?” Jacob asked.
“Really,” Sam said. “Get in the vehicle.”
Jacob got into the passenger seat. Sam started the truck and pulled out from Nelson’s driveway.
“We need to fix this driveway,” Sam said.
“It’s on the list,” Jacob said.
Sam nodded. After watching traffic, he was able to pull out. He started toward the highway.
“Will I be stuck there without a vehicle?” Jacob asked when they were on the I-70.
“No,” Sam said. “The boys will meet us there. You remember, from Leadville? My brothers?”
“I’ll leave you my truck,” Sam said. “They’ll take me back. But if you come right back, you’ll really mess up.”
“Your need to control me?” Jacob asked.
“A lot of people have gone out of their way to create this space for you,” Sam said. “Coming right back is a big fat f-you for all of their efforts.”
Scowling, Jacob focused on the forest passing the window.
“My son would never do that,” Sam said.
“Your son?” Jacob asked.
Jacob looked at Sam and he grinned. Shaking his head, Jacob turned to look out the window. When Jacob didn’t say anything, Sam looked at him.
Jacob was sound asleep.
Sam knew that Jacob hadn’t been sleeping well. According to Jill, he didn’t seem to be sleeping at all. There was clearly something heavy on his mind. Sam knew that this trip was exactly what Jacob needed. He couldn’t help but worry.
Sarah, Jacob’s dog, made a sound as if to agree with Sam’s thoughts.
“It’s all Dad’s ever wanted to do,” Valerie said. “Outside of being with Jill and having kids, what have you ever wanted to do? And I don’t mean what you want to do for me or for Dad or for Mom or for Delphie or anyone else. How do you want to spend the rest of your life?”
“I …” Jacob sighed. “I gave myself a year to figure it out.”
“You’re getting depressed,” Blane said. “You might not notice it but the rest of us do.”
“You’re moving at half-speed,” Valerie said. Her eyes welled with tears. “I don’t want to lose you.”
Jacob looked at his sister and then at Blane.
“I don’t know what I want to do,” Jacob said. “Right now, I need to finish this remodel so my cousin and his family can move in.”
“And then what?” Valerie asked. “Another remodel?”
“That’s likely,” Jacob said.
“You’re slowly drifting away,” Blane said.
“When was the last time you felt really alive?” Valerie asked.
“When the cherubim were working on rebuilding my body?” Jacob shrugged.
“Funny,” Blane said.
“You’re funny,” Valerie said.
Jacob gave her a big grin.
“I talked to Jill,” Valerie said. “She agrees with us, by the way.”
“What did you talk to Jill about?” Jacob asked.
“We think you need some time to yourself,” Blane said.
“You mean like I had in the golden cottage?” Jacob asked. “Trying to save your ass?”
“Something you did,” Blane pressed his hand into his chest, “for me.”
“And?” Jacob asked.
“What do you want to do for you?” Valerie asked.
Jacob scowled at her. His hands went to his hips.
“What did you talk to my wife about?” Jacob asked.
“Jill agrees that you seem aimless,” Valerie said.
“You’re getting depressed!” Blane said.
“And your solution?” Jacob asked.
“When was the last time you went fishing?” Blane asked. “Spent a week at the cabin?”
“Jill and I …” Jacob started.
“You used to go once a quarter,” Blane said. “You said it was necessary for you to hear yourself think.”
“Life changes,” Jacob said with a shrug.
“Katy is in school,” Valerie said. “The twins are at school most of the day. Jill’s in school full time. Edie’s here to fill any gaps.”
“And you’re installing cabinets,” Blane said.
Jacob squinted at them.
“What?” Blane asked.
“What will it take for this conversation to end?” Jacob asked. “For you to go away?”
“Huh,” Blane looked at Valerie and she nodded. “That’s cranky for you.”
“And?” Jacob asked.
“You’re isolating,” Blane said.
“So your solution is for me to go off by myself and …” Jacob said.
“Actually, our solution was …” Sam said as he came around the corner.