CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED and SIXTY-FOUR
Friday morning — 10:51 a.m.
In the alley behind the Castle, Jacob leaned over and opened the passenger door. Valerie stepped up into his truck. They drove toward the end of the alley and then stopped.
“Where to?” Jacob asked.
“Oh,” Valerie sighed. “I mostly just wanted to talk to you.”
“Where’s a good place to do that?” Jacob asked.
“Well …” Valerie said.
“Have you had breakfast?” Jacob asked. “Want to get a coffee?”
“Do you think Dad’s done?” Valerie asked.
She turned to look at him.
“With what?” Jacob asked.
Valerie shook her head.
“You’re not listening to me,” Valerie said.
“You’re not saying anything,” he said.
He glanced over to catch her mouthing his words. He grinned.
“Let’s see …” Jacob said. “It’s almost eleven. So yes, I think Dad’s done reading the funnies our mom. He’s likely on his way to Lipson. Do you want to see him?”
Valerie gave a slight shake of her head. He turned right and they went up Sixteenth Avenue. He turned on York Street and made his way to Colfax Boulevard. He pulled through the chain coffee shop drive-thru. After getting coffee for himself and tea for her, he started toward where he thought she wanted to go.
They drove in silence for a while. When he pulled up, Valerie gave a soft exclamation.
“Good job, Jake,” Valerie said in a soft voice.
Grinning, he pulled into the cemetery and drove to where their mother was buried. She slid out of the passenger side of the truck. He reached into the cab for a bundle of flowers. Valerie was kneeling over their mother’s grave when he got there.
“Here,” he said.
She turned slightly. Seeing the bouquet, she smiled and took the flowers from him. He went to sit on the bench near her grave to wait for his sister. A few minutes later, Valerie came to sit next to him. The sky was blue. The sun was out. They were dressed warmly, and the day was not too cold.
“How did you know?” Valerie asked after a moment.
She put her arms around her to pull in her quilted jacket.
“I bought those for you,” Jacob said.
“Well, you’d better get some more, buddy,” Valerie said with a laugh.
Jacob grinned. Whether due to the cold or just the cold reality of sitting at their mother’s grave, they shifted closer to each other.
“What’s going on?” Jacob asked.
“I …” Valerie sighed. “God, it’s great to be home.”
Jacob knew better than to rein her in. He simply nodded so that she knew that he was listening.
“I …” Valerie sighed. “It’s just that …”
Jacob held out his hand. She grabbed onto him like a lifeline. After a few moments, in the still quiet in front of their mother’s grave, she sighed again.
“I guess I’m not making any sense,” Valerie said.
“What else is new?” Jacob asked.
She punched him with the back of her hand. They laughed.
“Just lay it out for me,” Jacob said what their mother used to say when either of them needed to talk. “Take your time. Tell me everything. Don’t leave anything out.”
“Yes, Mom,” Valerie said softly and then stopped talking.
After a moment, she took a breath and began to speaking from the depths of her.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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