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Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Eight: Ahead. Or maybe A Head? (part one)


(part one)

Saturday morning — 9:02 a.m.

“Oh, no way,” Sandy said. “Jeraine had a poster of himself with his thumb in the front of his pants?”

“Kinda pulling them down,” Tanesha said as she slowly walked by Sandy’s side.

“How did we miss that for our dart board?” Sandy asked.

Tanesha laughed. Sandy had greeted Tanesha at the door of Seth O’Malley’s house. They were moving into the house.

“You know what he told me?” Tanesha asked.

“I’m not sure if I do,” Sandy said with a laugh.

“‘I am very sexy,’” Tanesha said.

They broke down laughing. Sandy stopped rolling and Tanesha bent over with laughter.

“What are you girls laughing about?” Bernie asked, poking his head out of the front room.

“Tanesha’s husband,” Maresol coming from the kitchen. She patted Bernie’s chest. “You remember that Tanesha’s married to Dionne’s son.”

“R and B star,” Bernie said, with a nod. “Jeraine.”

“That child never knew any shame,” Maresol said. “Remember when he decided that ripped shirts were his style? He’d tear them so that you could see just his little boy belly.”

“‘Shows off my hotness,’” Sandy said in an imitation of Jeraine.

“He was ten!” Tanesha said.

The woman laughed again.

“He is very handsome,” Bernie said.

“Don’t defend him,” Maresol said. “He’s done many, many, many cruel things to our Tanesha. He would be in prison if Seth hadn’t saved him. That was enough of an effort from your male kindship.”

Bernie scowled and looked at Maresol. Catching Sandy’s expression, he nodded.

“I acquiesce to your greater wisdom,” Bernie said.

“Smart man,” Maresol said.

Bernie chuckled and went back into the front room. In a few minutes, they heard him playing the grand piano that lived in that room.

“Where’s O’Malley?” Tanesha asked.

“He’s in New York,” Maresol said. “He has to finish that fourth movie. Plus…”

Maresol raised an eyebrow.

“What?” Tanesha asked.

“That jackass wants to own all of Hell’s Kitchen,” Maresol said.

“And remake it in his image,” Sandy said. “He owns the building around O’Malley’s and is trying to pressure O’Malley to sell his. If O’Malley caves, he thinks the rest of Hell’s Kitchen will cave.”

“It’s a real stand-off,” Maresol said. “They’re harassing the tenants of O’Malley’s building. They tried to steal the food trucks in O’Malley’s parking lot last night.”

“How did they stop that?” Tanesha asked.

“O’Malley and Claire told the tenants that this was coming,” Maresol said. “They were ready for the assault. One of those music guys was coming back from a gig and found them trying to break into the trucks.”

“What happened?” Tanesha asked.

“He called the police,” Maresol said. “The men said straight out that they were paid by that asshole.”

“Awful,” Sandy said.

“What about the other buildings?” Tanesha asked. “Will they cave?”

“Probably not,” Maresol said. “They are owned by Tafoya Industries.”

“Isn’t that your name?” Tanesha asked.

Sandy and Maresol laughed.

“O’Malley bought it about a year ago when it was clear what was coming,” Sandy said. “It’s this weird deal where he owns the property but the original owner manages the buildings and collects rent. After ten years, we can get control if we want it. Those idiots haven’t figured it out yet. They keep calling Maresol.”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven: Where is this? (part six)


(part six)

Friday afternoon — 4:43 p.m.

“How is he?” Tanesha whispered to Delphie.

Tanesha and Fin were sent home early because of the chaos of reporters. She went to check on their patients in the medical office. Even thought they were still on oxygen, Julie Hargreaves and Gando Peaches were sitting in chairs on the deck off the medical offices. They nodded to Tanesha as she’d passed through the doors to check on Sam Lipson.

“The nurse said he’s doing well,” Delphie said.

“But?” Tanesha asked.

“I just have never known him to sleep so much,” Delphie said with a sigh. “I keep thinking that he must be really sick because he’s sleeping.”

Tanesha picked up the chart and started going through it.

“Do you mind if I take a little break?” the nurse asked.

“Of course,” Tanesha said, looking up at him. “I’ll stay until you’re back.”

“Thanks,” the nurse said. “I have to pee.”

Tanesha grinned at the young man before turning back to Delphie.

“He’s on some heavy meds,” Tanesha said. Looking up at Delphie, she added, “That’s why he’s sleeping.”

“But why does he have to sleep?” Delphie asked.

The women looked at each other for a long moment before Tanesha nodded.

“I see what you mean,” Tanesha said. “He wouldn’t be on the meds and wouldn’t be sleeping if he wasn’t so sick.”

“Exactly,” Delphie said with a nod.

“This is just a really awful disease,” Tanesha said. “We know that he’s getting great treatment, right?”

Never taking her eyes off Sam, Delphie nodded.

“Then we have to trust that he will get well on his own terms,” Tanesha said. “Julie and Gando seem much better.”

Delphie nodded. After a moment, Delphie looked at Tanesha.

“You think Sam will get better too?” Dephie asked.

“His chart is good,” Tanesha said. “It looks like he was very, very sick. But he doesn’t seem to have much lung scarring.”

She looked at Delphie and nodded.

“My guess is that he’ll be back to his old self sooner than you think,” Tanesha said.

“I hope so,” Delphie said.

Tanesha turned an assessing look at Delphie.

“How are you?” Tanesha asked. “Have you been taking care of yourself? Sleeping?”

Delphie shook her head.

“I can’t sleep,” Delphie said. “You probably know that I’ve been a little crazy.”

“You need to rest!” Tanesha said. “What would any of us do without you?”

Delphie gave a slight nod.

“When the nurse returns, why don’t we get some tea?” Tanesha asked.

“You’re going to put me to sleep,” Delphie said.

“I am,” Tanesha said with a grin.

“You’re mom told me that you can do that,” Delphie said.

“I practiced on Gran,” Tanesha said. “She could be a real bear when she wasn’t sleeping.”

Delphie gave a slight nod. The nurse slipped into the room and gave Tanesha a nod.

“Come on,” Tanesha said to Delphie.

Delphie looked at Tanesha for a long moment before following her out of the room. They went down the hallway. Valerie was waiting for them at the head of the stairs.

“Delphie needs rest,” Tanesha said.

“Delphie?” Valerie put her arm around Delphie. Using her gift of commanding voice, she said, “You need to sleep.”

That was enough of a nudge for Delphie to go with Tanesha toward her apartment. Valerie followed close behind. Together, Tanesha and Valerie got Delphie into bed. They left her when she was sound asleep.

“How are you?” Tanesha asked Valerie.

“I feel huge,” Valerie said.

“Any day now,” Tanesha said.

Valerie gave her a worried look.

“What’s going on?” Tanesha asked.

“The hospitals are full of sick people,” Valerie said. “Jake made those medical offices so I could have Jackie. Now, they are full of people.”

Valerie stopped walking and looked at Tanesha.

“What am I going to do?” Valerie asked.

“Well,” Tanesha said and then thought for a moment. “Your pregnancy is normal?”

Valerie nodded.

“Nothing for the doctor to worry about?” Tanesha asked.

Valerie nodded.

“You could have her anywhere,” Tanesha said. “My gran used to say that my ancestors had their babies in the fields and went back to work.”

“I don’t want to do that,” Valerie said.

Tanesha grinned.

“You always get a little weird when you’re going into labor,” Tanesha said. “Give it time. Whatever happens will be perfect. I’ll certainly help in any way that I can.”

“Promise?” Valerie asked.

“Promise,” Tanesha said. “I’d better go find Jeraine.”

Valerie nodded. The women walked together down the stairs until the reached the kitchen. Valerie was immediately caught up in making dinner. Tanesha smiled at the happy chaos and went to find Jeraine.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday…

Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven: Where is this? (part five)


(part five)

Wild bunch?” Quanshay asked.

“We have a lot of kids who are about the same age,” Honey said. “Your son fit right in. They have so much fun that we call them the ‘Wild Bunch.’”

Quanshay looked at her kids. They both nodded at Honey’s words. Honey grinned at the silent communication between mother and children.

“You have been asleep for a long time,” Honey said. “You need to drink some fluids and eat. I made a sandwich if you would like it…”

“Thank you,” Quanshay said, embarrassed.

“We Fey wives have to stick together,” Honey said. “I’m sure the kids will tell you. We have a few sick people in the house, so we’re all wearing masks and trying to stay well.”

“Mama, Julie Hargreaves is here,” Kallyn said softly.

“Paddie’s mom?” J’Ron asked.

“Oh,” Quanshay said. “She’s such a sweet woman. I’d heard that she was sick.”

“She’s getting better,” Honey said. “I just wanted to make sure that you knew to be careful. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance from people even if you’re outside.”

Quanshay nodded.

“Call Royce,” Honey said.

“I will,” Quanshay said.

“Kids?” Honey asked. “Let’s let your mom get some rest.”

“They’re okay for now,” Quanshay said.

“You’re sure?” Honey asked.

“I am,” Quanshay said with a nod.

“I’ll let you know about the doctor,” Honey said.

Honey brought in a tray with a sandwich and a glass. She pointed that there was filtered water in the corner.

“It’s like a hotel,” Quanshay said.

Honey grinned, “We aim to please. Dinner starts at six. We have so many people now that it goes for a while. You don’t have to worry about being on time.”

Quanshay nodded.

“I washed the clothing you were wearing,” Honey said. “It’s hanging there. You didn’t bring other clothes so I thought you’d like something clean.”

“Thank you,” Quanshay said.

“It’s my pleasure,” Honey said. “Absolutely. I’ve had so many people help me over the years. It’s wonderful to have a chance to give back a little.”

Quanshay smiled, and Honey left them.

“Well, how is it here?” Quanshay asked the kids.

“Perfect,” Kallyn said. “We’re having a great time.”

“A blast,” J’Ron said. “We play video games from three to dinner. It’s… Amazing. I’m learning a lot and…”

Quanshay grinned. She was sure that they would go home when her husband returned. For now, this was a great place to land.

“I’m going to eat my sandwich and rest some more,” Quanshay said. “If you want to hang out with your friends you can.”

The kids gave each other guilty looks.

“I’m serious,” Quanshay said. “Go have fun.”

The kids nodded to each other. They hugged their mother one more time and then left her. Quanshay ate her sandwich, drank a lot of water, and went back to bed. For the first time since she knew about this stupid virus, she fell asleep quickly and slept well.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Six Hundred and Twenty-Seven: Where is this? (part four)


(part four)

“Jeraine lives here?” Quanshay asked.

Both children nodded.

“Your dad is going to be flipped out,” Quanshay said with a little laugh. “He’s just going to have to deal with it.”

When she laughed, her children laughed with her.

“Where have you been?” Kallyn asked.

“In there, I think,” Quanshay said. “Asleep. I just… I remember talking to… Oh my God, that’s Miss T. I know people have said that to me before but I never quite… Tanesha Smith is Miss T.”

Quanshay shook her head.

“Mercy,” Quanshay said. “Well… Can’t change the past.”

She looked at her children.

“Any idea why I’m here?” Quanshay gestured to the room she’d come out of.

“You’re staying in Fey Team Honey’s guest room,” Kallyn said. “I never would have guessed that it was here.”

“It’s really nice,” J’Ron said.

“Come on,” Quanshay said. “I’ll show you.”

Quanshay got up. The kids followed her inside to where she’d been sleeping. She was going to get dressed but when she saw the bed, her fatigue returned.

“Are you sick, Mama?” Kallyn asked.

“I doubt it,” Quanshay said. “I’m just tired. All of this stuff — virus, business, your dad being gone, you kids being home… I…”

There was a tap on the door. Quanshay saw the stack of masks next to her door. She put one on before letting Honey inside.

“I heard voices and wanted to check on you,” Honey said.

Uncomfortable with another adult they didn’t know, the kids moved away from the door.

“I can’t get over how well you’re walking,” Quanshay said.

“It’s still early in the day,” Honey said with a smile. She gave Quanshay a critical look. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired,” Quanshay said. “Hungry.”

“Should we get you a Covid test?” Honey asked.

“I don’t think so,” Quanshay said.

“Mom, you really…” Kallyn started at the same time J’Ron said, “Dad would want you to…”

“I guess I’d better,” Quanshay said.

“Best to be safe,” Honey said. “I’ll make an appointment with Dr. Bumpy.”

“Oh,” Quanshay said. “You know him?”

“He’s Jeraine’s father,” Honey said with a shrug. “We all see him.”

“Jeraine’s father?” Quanshay asked blushing. “I forgot that.”

“Is it okay?” Honey asked. “Should I call someone else?”

“No,” Quanshay said. “I really like him. We’ve come into to town to see him. He’s taking care of our kids and me through my pregnancy.”

Quanshay looked at her children.

“Where’s your brother?” Quanshay asked.

“He’s playing with the ‘Wild bunch,’” Honey said with a smile.

“Wild bunch?” Quanshay asked.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

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