Denver Cereal Denver Cereal

Denver Cereal, Volume 1, Chapter Four: The non-date looms (part one)


(part one)

“Four more hours.”

Jacob tapped his alarm clock to make sure it was working. In four hours, seven minutes, and thirty seconds, he would pick up Jill and Katy for a trip to the zoo.

Sick of staring at the ceiling, Jacob got out of bed. Sarah, his three-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, lifted her head from the covers to watch him walk across the wood floors to the bathroom. Sarah’s tail thumped a rhythm against the bed when he returned. He wandered across the open space to the refrigerator. Retrieving a bottle of cold water, he plopped down in a sagging armchair. The pre-dawn light greeted him through the ancient leaded glass windows. Sarah wandered over to him.

“Okay, I’m nervous,” Jacob said.

Sarah shook her entire body and barked one sharp bark.

“You’re absolutely right,” Jacob said.

Pushing himself from the armchair, he went to his closet to dress. A few miles pounding the pavement would help. He could burn at least an hour running in City Park.

Then what?

Jacob and Sarah jogged down the long flight of stairs from his third-floor attic apartment to the front door. Sarah sat while Jacob fumbled with the door, then with the security door. Like a gentleman, he held the door for Sarah. She romped to the slip of grass lining the flagstone sidewalk. Jacob locked the doors and then stretched while Sarah finished her business.

Turning on his heart rate monitor, Jacob noticed he had wasted another fifteen minutes. He groaned at his own impatience. He had waited nine years to even talk to Jill, and today …

Unable to finish the thought, he whistled for Sarah. Passing through the iron gate, they set off down Race Street. They walked one short block. Turning right onto Sixteenth Avenue, they took off toward East High School. Jacob and Sarah fell into a slow, time-burning jog to warm up. They made their way down the City Park Esplanade. Nodding to the grand lady of the Thatcher Fountain, they ran into the park.

The exertion helped unravel his anxious mind. As his feet worked the pavement, his mind drifted to memories of Jill.

His mother, Celia, and her best friend, Delphie, had gone to Pete’s Kitchen every Friday night after their Herbs and Arts spiritual group. They prayed for Celia’s health from six to ten and then celebrated with pancakes, eggs, and sausage. A professional tarot reader, Delphie read the cards one night and said his mother would meet someone significant. Celia joked that she would meet a handsome man who would fill her last year on earth.

They met Jill.

Jill had just started working at Pete’s Kitchen. She was young, bright, and always smiling. His mother and Delphie watched her blossom. Jill used to tell Celia and Delphie that they were replacements for her mother. Like good surrogate mothers, they bought the puppy Scooter as a wedding present.

Every Saturday morning, Mom and Delphie regaled Jacob with Jill’s latest adventure. From arguments with Trevor over having a baby to whether or not she should quit high school, Jacob had a ring-side view of the infamous Jill’s life. That’s what he called her, ‘the infamous Jill.’

But Jacob couldn’t care less.

Freaked out by his family’s implosion, he focused on playing high school sports, getting laid, and partying with his friends. Sure, he moved into his mother’s three-story money pit, which he called “the Castle.” Yes, he knew that cancer ate the very core of his mother. Of course, he went to visit his father’s sec-witch-ary’s day-old infant.

These family matters were simply a break between sports, sex, and friends. See the sec-witch-ary’s baby, start as a safety for the East High Angels and trounce their arch-rivals Montbello High. Go with Mom for chemo, go get laid later. At eighteen-years-old, Jacob was handsome, popular, and completely self-absorbed.

The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow…

Next: Denver Cereal, Volume 1, Chapter Four: The non-date looms (part two)

Previous: Denver Cereal, Volume 1, Chapter Three: What he's missing... (part four)

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