Jill was sitting on her balcony when she saw Jacob and Valerie park in front of her building. At the sight of the Jeep, her heart started a little happy dance. Stopping by the mirror, she brushed her hair and put on some lip gloss. She paced back and forth with nervous excitement until there was a knock at the door.
Opening the door, she saw Valerie and Jacob bickering back and forth.
“Hi!” Jill said.
When Jacob turned he looked lost and sad. He opened his mouth, then closed it. She hugged him and brushed her lips with his but he was completely unresponsive. He mumbled something.
“What?” Jill asked.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“What’s going on?” Jill asked. She shook her head at him, then remembered Valerie. “Please come in.”
“Wow, this is really nice,” Valerie said. She stepped into the apartment and looked around. The furnishings were inexpensive but well cared for. The walls of the apartment were painted in bright colors. And the tattered ancient carpet was covered with bright throw rugs. “Did you do all of this?”
Jill blushed and shifted a piece of hair behind her ear.
“I like to make things homey,” Jill said. “Can I get you some coffee? Water?”
Valerie grabbed Jacob’s arm and pulled him into the apartment.
“Water would be great,” Valerie said.
Jacob opened his mouth again and shook his head. Leaving Jacob near the door, Valerie followed Jill into the efficient galley kitchen. Jill opened an ancient refrigerator and pulled out a Brita water filter. She put a few ice cubes in three glasses and poured the water.
“What’s wrong with him?” Jill whispered.
“He’s had a terrible run-in with your ex,” Valerie said.
“Trevor?” Jill made a dark face. “What happened?”
“I was hoping he would tell you but he’s too freaked out.”
“Does this happen?” Jill asked.
“Sometimes. He needs to go fix something. In fact,” Valerie went out into the other room, “Jake, go fix something. Here’s the key to the Jeep. Come back here in two hours. Shower first.”
Jacob looked at his sister and nodded. He looked at Jill and almost burst into tears.
“See you in a couple hours,” Jill said. She smiled and waved.
Jacob nodded and walked out of the apartment.
“Where is he going?” Jill asked.
“To one of his projects. He’ll break down a wall or fix a floor or hammer on something for a while. You’ll see. He’ll be back to himself.”
“But Lipson Construction does underground utility and roads.”
Valerie laughed. “You really don’t know anything, do you?”
“We haven’t had a lot of time to get to know each other.”
“Is there a place we can talk?”
“Sure,” Jill said.
Valerie followed Jill out onto the small balcony with blooming flower boxes and even a tomato plant. Due to near-constant paparazzi attention, Valerie hadn’t sat on a balcony in years. She delighted at the shady, outdoor spot.
“What do you want to know first?” Valerie asked.
Jacob pulled up to a hundred and fifty-year-old, boarded-up house. The Denver Square was a two-story, red-brick box with a wide, open porch. The most prominent feature on the house was a couple of bright yellow “CONDEMNED” posters tacked to the front boards. He parked the Jeep in the shade of a hundred-foot maple.
Jacob went to the back of the Jeep, where he kept a pair of work jeans and a T-shirt. He laid his suit jacket and tie inside the Jeep. In quick, practiced motions, Jacob changed from his suit to his work clothing.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow…
This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.