“What happened with you?” Aden asked.
“My mom got jobs to support us. It was hard on her … really hard … like it’s been for Jill. She met my step-dad when I was eight or nine.” Sandy smiled. “He was Catholic, so we all converted. And, he was a really great guy. He was my dad.”
“He smoked … He was older than Mom by fifteen years or so. He died a couple years ago. Lung cancer. So, you can see why I want to know what happened with you and your kids.”
“I was such an idiot. People at work would leave their dogs in the car so I thought I’d leave the kids in the car. They mostly sleep anyway. I would see them on my breaks.”
“I know,” Aden said. “I told you I was an idiot.”
“I went on my first break and I saw this woman by the car. She was singing to Noelle and rocking her side to side. My son, Nash, was sitting on the hood of the car eating a candy bar. When I got close, she looked up and said, ‘She’s really just lonely. How about if I take them today?’ I was like, ‘What?’” Aden laughed. “That was Jake’s mom, Celia. Big Sam Lipson came up behind me. He looked at me, then Celia. He just laughed. They started a day care for Lipson employees the next day and you know what? A hundred kids showed up that day and a hundred more the following Monday. Nobody had day care for their kids. No accidents, that’s what Celia said. ‘It’s no accident Sam invited me to lunch today.’ I … Yeah.”
“Oooh, Val, what plow did you find him behind?” Ramon said. A slight, Asian man, Ramon’s exaggerated inflection and silk, leopard-print caftan announced, “GAY HOLLYWOOD STYLIST” like a neon sign. “He’s absolutely Neanderthal-dreamy. Look at all that hair!”
“I met him skiing on Copper Mountain,” Valerie said. “I was twelve.”
“Oooh,” the man said. “Well, he’s a big boy now.”
He reached to squeeze Mike’s leg, and Mike slapped his hand away. When Ramon lifted Mike’s shirt to ogle his flat stomach, Mike stepped back.
“You must take your clothing off,” the man lisped.
“No,” Mike said.
Mike backed away. Ramon took a step toward him. Mike stalked out the back door toward his studio. He heard Ramon and Valerie laugh the entire way across the garden.
Sandy and Aden stood together in close, companionable silence. Sandy shifted from foot to foot. Her familiar draw to Aden made her even more uncomfortable. She was about to leave when she saw Jill step off the hospital elevator.
“Thanks for talking to me,” Aden said. “I better get back up there.”
“There’s Jill,” Sandy said. “Hey. I thought I’d have to pry you away.”
“They took Jacob to get his neck surgery today. He told me to go shopping. I … I think I should stay here, but …”
“Ah, shit,” Aden said.
“Jacob said to tell you to check your Blackberry,” Jill said. “I packed up the computers.”
Jill gave Aden his computer bag. Aden dug out his Blackberry from the front pocket.
“Excuse me,” Aden said. He stepped away from Jill and Sandy to read his daily list from Jacob.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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