Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Chapter Five Hundred and Seventy-four : Let's do this thing (part two)


(part two)

Monday morning — 9:35 a.m.

Łodź, Poland

Always delighted to play a part, Bernie was hamming it up as US Air Force Sergeant Cliff Mauer’s aged great-grandfather. Bernie feet shuffled. He bent forward as if his spine couldn’t hold up his weight. He relied heavily on Cliff, who had instinctively slipped his hand under Bernie’s elbow, and the ancient cane they’d found in a closet at the farmhouse they’d rented.

They were dressed as American tourists. They wore jeans, T-shirts with logos on them, and their most American jackets. Cliff had to laugh when Bernie pulled out a floppy hat.

“Works every time,” Bernie had said with a wink.

Cliff and Bernie were touring Łodź today with US Army Major Joseph Walter as their driver. The hope was to draw some of the attention and heat away from the team heading into the tunnel.

“Now my boy,” Bernie said, patting Cliff’s hand. “We’re going to take our time today.”

Cliff stifled a chuckle at Bernie’s shaky voice. Bernie glanced at him and gave a grin.

“I was surprised to see Seth going with the tunnel team,” Cliff said.

“Seth knows a thing or two about tunnels,” Bernie said.

“How so?” Cliff asked.

“When he was just a kid, he tricked his mother into letting him join the military,” Bernie said. “He and his buddy, Mitch, spent a few years in the tunnels at Cu Chi.”

Cliff shrugged and shook his head.

“Is that like the tunnels in Afghanistan?” Cliff asked.

“Something like that,” Bernie said. “He actually did much of the training of the men who worked those Afghan tunnels.”

“Seth?” Cliff asked.

Bernie nodded.

“I thought he was just a rich guy who played the piano,” Cliff said.

“He’s a tad more complicate than that,” Bernie said with a nod.

They fell silent for a moment while Bernie focused on his slow movement across the ground. He’d always been a fast walker. This kind of walking took excruciating patience for him. He’d never bother if it weren’t for their audience sitting in a car just out of sight.

“So your grandfather was one of …” Bernie said. “Do you know?”

“I’m not sure,” Cliff said.

Bernie gave him a sad nod. US Army Major Joseph Walter caught up with them from parking the car. He fell in on the other side of Bernie.

“Still there,” Joseph said in a low tone.

“Let them watch,” Bernie said. “We are tourists. That is all.”

Joseph shot Cliff a look behind Bernie’s back.

“I didn’t believe you when you said that if you came here they would follow you,” Joseph said.

Bernie gave a nod in agreement.

“I am an old man,” Bernie said. “Taking my friend’s grandson to visit his history.”

Once again, Cliff had to force himself not to laugh. Bernie was good, really good. Bernie glanced at Joseph.

“Do you know the history here?” Bernie asked Joseph.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and Seventy-four : Let's do this thing (part one)


(part one)

Monday early morning — 1:15 a.m.

The Factory

Denver, Colorado

“I’d hoped you’d be able to come,” Homeland Security Agent, Colin Hargreaves said. “We were under the impression that you were still too ill.”

Colin pressed the button on the elevator. It opened with a “ding.” Colin rolled Sandy onto the elevator. Aden, Nash, Teddy, and Nadia got in after him. Better, stronger, but not anywhere near well, Sandy was sitting in a clunky medical wheelchair that Maresol had found in their basement. Colin pushed it from behind.

“She’s taken a turn for the better,” Aden said. He put his hand on Sandy’s shoulder. “She really wanted to be here. She didn’t want to miss seeing this come to fruition.”

Colin pushed the button for the office floor and the elevator began to drop.

“You remember the oath’s you swore?” Colin asked.

“We won’t dare talk about our experience at this facility including where it might be located,” Aden said with a nod. “Boys?”

“We won’t say anything,” Teddy said.

Nash and Nadia nodded.

“Ever,” Nash said.

“Good,” Colin said.

The elevator reached the right floor and the door opened to a small entryway.

“Leave your phones, watches, cameras, all electronic gear here,” Colin said. “If you bring it with you, it will be fried.”

They made quick work of leaving their things in the locker outside the door. They went through the door and the biometric scanner. Once inside, Colin stopped.

“We’ll be able to watch just down the hallway,” Colin said.

In her pain and drug induced daze, Sandy remembered going down a long hallway to a large open room. There were individual work stations as well as some long, battered, wooden tables that looked like they had been made in the 1940s.

M.J. was sitting at a table. He had a laptop in front of him.

“They just arrived,” MJ turned around to look. “Oh look! Sandy’s here!”

They could hear a vague cheering coming from the laptop.

“Go Sandy!” came Alex Hargreaves clear voice.

MJ picked up a wireless headset and put it on.

“Why don’t I put you here?” Colin asked.

He rolled Sandy to one of the large tables. Aden took her left side and Nadia took the other side.

“Is this us?” Nash asked.

Colin nodded. Nash and Teddy found a place at a long table next to them where two laptops sat on the table waiting for them.

“I’d like to stay with her,” Aden said. “I came along in case she needed to go home I could take her and not disrupt anything.”

Colin put his hand on Sandy’s shoulder.

“Just let me know what you need,” Colin said.

Sandy gave a slight nod.

“Good,” Colin said.

The screen in front of the room lit up with a greenish-grey image of Alex, some of her team, Seth O’Malley — of all people — and some other people that Sandy recognized but didn’t know their names. They looked like they were in the back of a utility truck. Some had weapons. Others did not. There was a diplomat looking person in a suit by the corner of the truck.

“Hi Sandy!” the group said in unison.

“Can they see us?” Aden asked.

“Of course,” Colin said.

Aden helped Sandy to wave. They waved back.

“We’re ready here!” Alex said.

“We’re ready here!” Nash responded without thinking.

Immediately embarrassed, Nash looked down at the table. The adults grinned.

“Let’s do this thing!” Matthew Mac Clengahan said in Poland, and the team got moving.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and Seventy-three : Old problems (part six)


(part six)

Jammy smiled.

“Why did you wake me?” Jeraine asked, feeling the edge of his headache returning.

“We need to talk about tomorrow,” Jammy said.

“We go see Jeanie and then go to the other casino,” Jeraine repeated what Tanesha had made him memorize.

“That’s what I thought as well,” Jammy said. “The casino lawyers have sued Jeanie for control of the corporation.”

“Can they do that?” Jeraine asked.

“Sure,” Jammy said. “The casino has a lot of good lawyers. Jeanie went out and hired the best firm in Las Vegas. They’ve filed to dismiss these ‘frivolous’ lawsuits based on the will.”

“What does the will say?” Jeraine asked.

“It gives control of the corporation to her,” Jammy said. “It was actually a part of their prenuptial. She was the CEO of his corporation before they married. He said that he married her because of her great looks and good brain for business.”

“How long have they been married?” Jeraine asked.

“Good question,” Jammy said. “Twelve years. So over the ten year mark. The prenup stands. The other lawyers don’t have a case.”

“What do we do?” Jeraine asked. “Aren’t I trapped in place by these white people and their lawyers?”

“If you wish to be,” Jammy said.

“What do you mean?” Jeraine asked.

“We can just move forward,” Jammy said. “Build a show at the other casino. Worst case, we have to move it back to the original casino. But we can likely stall that.”

“I don’t want to work for a year or more to build something that will just go on the shelf!” Jeraine said.

“That’s not going to happen,” Hecate said.

Jeraine turned to look at her. He knew better than to ask how she knew that. He turned back to Jammy.

“What are we doing tomorrow, then?” Jeraine asked.

“Breakfast with Jeanie,” Jammy said. “A very public breakfast, I might add. Her best defense is to continue to act as if what she’s doing is what her husband wanted.”

“Is it not?” Hecate asked.

“There’s no real way to know,” Jammy said. “The company’s lawyers say that he was getting ready to change his will, divorce this wife, but there’s no other evidence of that.”

Hecate snapped her finger.

“What was that?” Jeraine asked at the same moment Jammy said, “What did you do?”

“Documents get lost all the time,” Hecate said. She shrugged. “Plus, it’s my opinion that her husband would want her in control. He just wouldn’t have expected her first action to be cleaning this up for you.”

The men looked at Hecate. Neither one dared asking is she had made that happen. She gave them a veiled smile.

“So tomorrow?” Jeraine asked with a laugh.

“Breakfast with Jeanie,” Jammy said. “Then we head to the other casino. Jeanie’s asked to come along. I don’t see why not. It’s my opinion that our best bet is to keep her in the loop until this court stuff is worked out.”

Jeraine nodded.

“It will be a full day,” Jammy said. “Are you up to it?”

“I just need to sleep,” Jeraine said.

“Off you go then,” Jammy said.

Jeraine got up from his seat. He was almost out of the room when he saw Hecate disappear, and Jammy turn his attention back to the novel. He felt oddly safe and protected. Taking the time to change, he finally climbed into bed where he fell into a sound sleep.

Denver Cereal continues on Monday…

Chapter Five Hundred and Seventy-three : Old problems (part five)


(part five)

“Miss T …” Jeraine looked at Hecate. Just by looking at her, the truth bubbled to the surface inside of him. “No, you’re right. It’s me. Abi used to offer. I just …”

Jeraine sighed.

“I’m afraid that I’ll forget,” Jeraine said. “And slip back into the old ways. It nearly killed me. Destroyed my entire life. I hurt Tanesha so badly that … I was out living the high life and she was selling her eggs to pay for her mother’s medical treatment. That’s not to mention her working four jobs to pay her grandmother’s mortgage while I’m snorting more money that every single night. That’s not accounting for the humiliation I caused her, still cause her. No. I deserve to suffer.”

Jeraine shook his head.

“Well, that should help for now,” Hecate said.

He was surprised to find that he actually felt better. His second surprise was to realize that he was still wearing his clothing from his plane trip.

“James Schmidt is in the other room,” Hecate said. “He asked if I would wake you.”

He got up from the bed. With Hecate’s hand on his arm, he managed to walk upright to the living area of this apartment. Jammy was sitting in a chair reading on his eBook reader.

“What are you reading?” Jeraine asked

“Cozy mystery,” James “Jammy” Schmidt Jr. said. “I got hooked on this series set in Cherringham, England. Good stuff.”

Jeraine nodded. He came around and sat on the couch. Hecate sat next to him.

“I need some water,” Jeraine said.

Hecate held out a glass of water for him.

“Thanks,” Jeraine said. “I think. You know I read something that said that you were evil. And a witch.”

“Me?” Hecate asked.

“Insecure little men believe that powerful women are evil witches,” Jammy said with a nod. “It’s pathetic really. I love my powerful wife.”

His eyes flicked to Hecate.

“She’s not a witch or anything,” Jammy said.

“Seth O’Malley’s daughter?” Hecate asked.

Jammy gave a nod, but Hecate didn’t say anything else. He looked at Hecate, and she shrugged.

“Would you like her to be?” Hecate asked finally.

“If she wants,” Jammy said.

Hecate gave a quick nod.

“She comes from powerful parents,” Hecate said. “It’s likely that she’ll come into her power as she ages.”

Hecate gave Jammy a long look.

“She’s a good match for you,” Hecate said.

“I’ve loved her since we were children,” Jammy said. “I don’t care what she is or will become. I just want to be by her side for the rest of my life.”

His sincerity made both Hecate and Jeraine smile.

“So it is,” Hecate said.

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

Chapter Five Hundred and Seventy-three : Old problems (part four)


(part four)

Sunday late night — 11:30 p.m.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Jeraine turned over in bed.

“Are you awake?” a woman’s voice came from the bed next to him.

Jeraine let out a panicked scream. Grabbing the covers, he reeled off the bed. Not yet awake, his mind raced with the repercussions of screwing up with yet another woman. He shook with the fear that he’d somehow fucked up again. He was already into Tanesha divorcing him and losing Jabari when he realized that it was his friend, Hecate, on the bed.

Fully clothed and above the covers, she was laying on her side on the bed. She’d spoken when he’d rolled over to face her. Jeraine pointed at her and collapsed down to sit on the side of the bed. She laughed while he tried to catch his breath.

“Very funny,” Jeraine said. “I was like to have a heart attack!”

She scooted across the bed to sit next to him.

“Sorry,” Hecate said.

Jeraine looked at him.

“Hedone told me that you had some brain issues,” Hecate said. “I hadn’t seen them before now.”

She put a cool hand on his forehead. He’d had a pounding headache since he’d started packing for this trip. It had only gotten worse on the plane. He’d crawled into bed the moment he’d arrived here. Her cool hand took the pulse of his pain away.

“What are you doing?” Jeraine asked.

“I’m cooling your mind down,” Hecate said. “How’d you get this?”

“Drugs,” Jeraine said. “Alcohol.”

Hecate put her other hand on the back of his head.

“Do you only get them when you’re anxious?” Hecate asked.

“Now,” Jeraine said. “I used to get them all the time. I worked hard in brain therapy. I still do it every third day. Jill helped me, too. Mike, one time. He …”

Jeraine shook his head.

“What did my brother do?” Hecate asked.

“He has this macho energy,” Jeraine said. “He found me after I’d passed out on the Castle grass. He put his hand on my head, and I was infused with a kind of male-power. It’s hard to describe.”

“Strength,” Hecate said. “I bet that helped.”

Jeraine nodded.

“Helps me stay clear and focused,” Jeraine said. “To this day.”

“Abi never offered to fix this?” Hecate asked.

“Tanesha told her that I don’t deserved it,” Jeraine said. “And I don’t. I really don’t. I caused so much pain that …”

“So you won’t let her fix it?” Hecate asked.

“Miss T …” Jeraine looked at Hecate. Just by looking at her, the truth bubbled to the surface inside of him. “No, you’re right. It’s me. Abi used to offer. I just …”

Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…

For full chapters, visit Stories by Claudia