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Celia's Puppies, Chapter Twenty-seven: Going to be a good day (part three)


(part three)

“I wanted to have a private word with you about Michael Roper,” the General said. “It’s my understanding that you’ll interview him this week.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied.

She cursed herself for not reviewing her schedule before leaving the house. In her mind, she flipped through her interviews and shows planned for this week.

Who was Michael Roper?

“He’s going to tell you a story that… well, could win you a Pulitzer Prize.”

“But it’s not true?”

“No, ma’am. Michael Roper will tell you a true story and one that needs to be heard, especially at this time. However…”

The General fell silent. He seemed to be choosing his words very carefully.


“I don’t doubt that you’ll notice a few details in Roper’s story are… fuzzy.”


“Unclear. I’m certain you‘ll notice he’s covering something or possibly diverting your attention. He’s not an experienced liar. We expect you might notice areas of …”


“Michael Roper is a true hero. He saved the lives of at least seven men and possibly more. He suffered unspeakable things during his service and he has never asked for acclaim or reward. In fact, he says he was just doing his job. His story is absolutely one hundred percent true, even if the details are a little muddy.”

“You’re asking me to broadcast untruths?” Her voice betrayed her indignation.

The General stopped running. The group of men and dogs stopped running. A bird’s call broke the sudden silence in the lane. He turned to look at her.

“No, I am asking you to treat a true hero with the respect he deserves. He’s not a public speaker or even a very good poker player. He’s too straight of a guy. His story is true and deserves to be heard.”

“And these details?”

“Are sensitive.”

“You’re saying he’s been coached. I’ll notice the coaching because he’s such a straight forward guy.”

The General started running again. They ran in silence while she processed his request.

“I won’t throw national security at you. However I would not ask if people’s lives were not at stake,” he said. “We can pull the interview. There was a suggestion to disrupt the satellite feed during your transmission of the show. A few well placed individuals, including myself, would like the world to hear Roper’s story.”

“With the details removed?”

“With a few details removed.”

“And the satellite feed? I don’t want to interview some guy and have it not go out.”

“A few high level people have used their authority to allow the interview with…”

“A few details removed.” She finished his sentence.

“Exactly. These people will be with Roper when you do the interview. You might notice them, but probably not.”

“If I do this, will you come on my show?” she asked. “Talk about the war? The soldiers?”

“You’ve asked before.”

“I’ve asked for five years,” she said.

“Treat Roper with the respect he deserves and I’ll seriously consider it.”

She nodded.

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

Celia's Puppies, Chapter Twenty-seven: Going to be a good day (part two)


(part two)

He touched her chin and she looked up at him.

“We’ve made it to the other side of nine years of garbage. I’d like to spend some years enjoying the peace and you.”

“Me too,” Delphie said. “And the kids.”

“And their kids,” Sam said. “Our grandkids and great grandkids.”

“Your kids. Your grandkids. Your great grandkids.”

“They’ve always been our kids. Yours, mine and Celia’s kids.” Sam kissed her cheek. “You must really miss her today.”

Delphie gave another slight nod. She stood so he could get out of bed. He was halfway across the room before he turned.

“I’m deeply grateful for you, Delphinium. Thank you for the gift of this second life, and your love.”

Her eyes welled.

“Go on,” she said. “Delaying the inevitable…”

“Only creates another mess,” they said one of Celia’s sayings together. Laughing, Sam went into the bathroom.

Delphie returned to her bay window meditation nook. Relighting the candles, she noticed the paparazzi arriving for another day of stalking Valerie. A picture of Valerie’s husband was worth at least couple hundred thousand dollars to these scavengers. Not that they were going to get one.

Delphie smiled.

It was going to be a good day.


Monday morning — 6:30 A.M.
Outside Chicago, IL

A small woman began jogging down the driveway of her estate home with a few of her dogs. No matter what her hectic schedule demanded, she loved the early morning quiet with her dogs. They settled into a steady jog down the driveway. Turning onto the quiet lane in front of her home,she heard a sound behind her.

Boots on the pavement.

Like something out of a movie, she could hear at least five people running in boots behind her. And they were fast.

Turning to look, she saw a group of short haired men wearing green t-shirts, digital fatigue pants and tactical boots running toward her. A man ran in the very middle of this pack.

As they approached, her dog pack skittered uncomfortably. These men were twice her size, fit and muscular. Her mind shifted to the horror stories her guests had told on her own talk show. Glancing around, she realized how alone, how vulnerable, she was.

The men caught up with her then slowed their pace to match hers.

“Would you mind if we take your dogs?” A fresh faced young man asked.


“The General would like a private conversation,” a second man said. “We won’t harm them. Just take them so that you might talk.”

Before she could say anything, the young men reached for the leashes. She was about to call her dogs back when she caught sight of the man in the center of the pack. Stunned, she stopped running.

Standing in the middle of the quiet lane, she gawked at the US Army General.

“Shall we continue?” the General asked.

Each young man took a dog. They separated out in to a large circle giving just enough space for a quiet conversation. When the General started running again, she joined his jogging pace.

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

Celia's Puppies, Chapter Twenty-seven: Going to be a good day (part one)


(part one)

Monday morning — 4:00 A..M.

Sitting on her meditation bolster, Delphie let out a breath and bowed forward. A half hour of prayer would have to do this morning. Not for the first time, Delphie longed for the days when she had the entire Castle to herself. But then, Sam wouldn’t be asleep in her bed and the kids wouldn’t be home. Things were better now.

She just needed more time to herself.

With care, she put out the candles but left her incense burning for Quan Yin. Smoothing her wild bottle-red hair in the mirror, she realized she was lying to herself.

She didn’t need more time to herself.

She missed Celia.

Celia would love how things turned out. She would have teased Mike about his confusion over Valerie. Celia would spoil Katy to no end. Delphie could just see Celia in a corner of the dining room laughing with Jill and Sandy. Celia would revel in Jacob stepping into himself.

And Aden! Who would believe that drunken criminal Aden Norsen would turn into gentleman Aden?

Of course, Celia always believed in Aden, Blane, Jill and the others too. Delphie called them Celia’s puppies — the people Celia collected like lost puppies. The ones whose lives really changed with loving support.

Delphie never had that kind of faith in people. Celia was special. She could see into people’s souls and see what they could be. Not that she was always right. After all, Tiffanie’s oldest daughter gave only misery in return for the resources and love she was given.

Moving toward the bed, Delphie sighed. She’d give up Sam to have Celia back. It would be hard because she cared deeply for Sam. But she’d do almost anything to have Celia back.

Delphie sat down on the bed next to Sam. He opened his eyes and touched her hair.

“It’s a little after four,” Delphie said. “You should work on getting up.”

“I’m sorry our chaos has interrupted your meditation,” Sam said. “You have clients today, don’t you?”

Delphie gave a slight nod.

“Sad?” he asked. He sat up to hold her.

“Missing Celia.”

Sam and Delphie held each other and cried. In each other’s arms, neither was afraid or ashamed to express the depth of their loss.

“We need to get moving,” Delphie said after a moment. “The kids are here and…”

She moved off the bed but Sam caught her hand.

“Everyone can take care of themselves, Delphie,” Sam said. “I know it’s exciting. It’s exciting for me. But we are all we have now, Delphinium.”

Delphie sniffed then sat back down. Sam wrapped himself around her. For a moment, she allowed herself to rest in his strength.

“Why don’t you continue meditating?” Sam whispered. “I can make the coffee.”


“Your coffee is much better. You’re right,” Sam said. “Your clients take so much from you. I take so much from you. I’d like it if you took care of yourself. For me.”

He touched her chin and she looked up at him.

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

A note from Claudia Hall Christian

Dear Reader,

Thank you.

Thank you for reading and caring and supporting Denver Cereal. This project is a labor of love — for me, for patrons, for my family, and everyone who works at Cook Street Publishing.

As you likely know, I had my third spine surgery in early March. The last day I was in the hospital, someone moved in next door that had COVID-19. I was whisked out of the hospital just ahead of Colorado’s surge of COVID-19 cases.

I’ve been at home ever since.

Originally, I had planned to be off from March through June — four months to heal. We played Denver Cereal Volume 1 here in this space.

While I am a great deal better, I am still not well.

This third spine surgery set me back quite a bit. The surgery itself was a success. They were able to remove the pressure from the nerve root. However, the nerve itself was inflamed. This means that the tremendous pain I was in prior to the surgery was not relieved by the surgery.

The only solution to relieving my pain now is giving the nerve root enough time to heal. In the last four months, it has healed some, but not completely. I am still in terrible, mind distracting pain.

When the surgeon came to visit me in the hospital, she said it would take 3 months for the nerve to heal. When I saw her at my 2 week post-surgical visit, she said it would be 6 months. At my 3 month post-surgical visit, she said that it would be at the very least a year. When I asked her about this progression, she told me that she hadn’t wanted to discourage me in the hospital or at my three month visit. It was always going to take at least a year.

As for me? I find myself unable to pick back up the daily and weekly challenge that is the Denver Cereal.

What does this mean?

For at least the next month, we are going to play Celia’s Puppies, Denver Cereal Volume 2 here in this space. I will let you know in a month’s time what will happen after that.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on a short story project called Love in the time of COVID-19 to raise money for Feeding America. So far, we have raised $331.48 for Feeding America. That’s over 3,000 meals for hungry families.

So far, the stories have been about the Fey Team. The stories are pay what you can so that they are available to everyone. You can find them here:

The Doctor and the Soldier (about John and Alex)

The Captain and the Petty Officer (about Josie and Leena)

The Dragon and the Pilot (about Bestat and Zack)

Thank you for your support and kindness. Trust that I am doing my level best to get back in the writing saddle. It just takes time.

Please enjoy the second volume of Denver Cereal, Celia’s Puppies

Take care. Be safe.


Denver Cereal, Volume 1, Chapter Twenty-six: There is something you could do (part eight)


(part eight)

Monday morning, 3 a.m.

“Jill,” Jacob whispered.

“Yes Jacob.”

Jill rolled onto her side. She kissed his face.

“Where’s Katy?”

“She’s asleep in her crib, remember? Mike brought it from the apartment,” Jill said. “Why?”

“I think I need some convincing.”

Jill giggled.

The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…

For full chapters, visit Stories by Claudia