“Yes,” he said. “We were unaware of the ownership change.”
“That was intentional. We wanted to keep every customer for when Mabel comes back. I’m sorry.” Darla gave a weak smile. “Guess I should get my resume together.”
“That’s probably a good idea,” he said. “Keep me in the loop, Darla. We can always use good people at Lipson.”
“I heard you had another business. Molly does your books?”
Jacob nodded. “Send me your resume.”
He shook Darla’s hand and took the medication from her. Walking through the office, he picked up a box of Jill’s possessions from the other women. He waved and went out into the bright day.
Seeing Jill in the car, he smiled. Some messes were easy to clean up.
“What’s happened?” Mike asked Delphie.
“As far as I can tell? Nothing,” Delphie said. “Maybe Jake was wrong.”
“He’s never been wrong before,” Valerie said. “He’s better than Mom was. Between the two of you …”
Valerie jumped from her armchair to pace the Castle living room. Mike held his arms out in case she wanted a hug, but she shook her head. She was too anxious for comfort. For the billionth time, she wished she had even a twinge of her mother or brother’s skill.
“Go over again what he told you,” Valerie said.
“He said Jill was going to get fired and the owner was going to attack him.”
“What about the blood?” Mike asked.
“He saw a lot of blood. Lots of blood,” Delphie said. “That’s what he said.”
“What do you see?” Valerie and Jacob’s father walked into the room from the kitchen.
“Lots of blood,” Delphie said. “Just lots of blood.”
Jill remembered what happened like this:
She was spacing out, listening to jazz and enjoying the cool air on her skin. If she thought of anything, it was that she had never been in such a nice car. With the air conditioning on and the music playing, she couldn’t hear the street noises. She felt enclosed in a cozy bubble. She even slipped off her shoes and her torn nylons. Holding the Kleenex box in one hand, her fingers played with the torn nylons in the other hand.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Jacob come out of the office. He winked at her. He held up Katy’s medication and a box as if to say, “That was easy.” Their eyes caught and he smiled.
Mostly, she remembered his beautiful smile. His teeth were so white against his sun-kissed skin. Yes, his smile was something she would always remember.
A second later, his face flashed in horror and then went slack. He fell forward toward the cement. As he fell, his right shoulder seemed to disintegrate. Blood sprayed from his neck. Jacob’s fall to the ground revealed Ashforth behind him. Ashforth jerked the head of a twenty-pound straight pipe wrench from Jacob’s shoulder.
Jill screamed, “NO!”
Fumbling with the locks, she somehow managed to get the door open. Jacob’s body bounced on the sidewalk until he landed on his left side. Blood began to mist into the warm day. With both arms, Ashforth swung the pipe wrench over his head to bash in Jacob’s head.
“NO!” Channeling Megan, Jill screamed in her bossiest voice. “DON’T YOU DARE.”
Hearing Jill, Ashforth lowered the pipe wrench to step over Jacob’s body. He spit on Jacob before moving his rotund body across the sidewalk toward Jill. Jill ran forward toward Jacob. They met in the middle of the sidewalk.
Ashforth hefted the pipe wrench over his head.
“LOWER THE WEAPON.”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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