CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY-ONE
Monday night — 9:15 p.m.
Delphie slipped into Sam’s room, the birch room off the hallway where MJ and Honey’s apartment was located. Seeing that he was asleep, she stopped at the door and slipped off her shoes. This room was beautiful but loud. Any noise echoed off the wood interior. She sighed and went to the bed.
“How did it go?” Sam asked as he rolled over to look at her.
“I finally got her settled down,” Delphie said. “She’s with Noelle now.”
“What happened?” Sam asked. “One minute, Ivy was playing video games with the other kids and the next minute she was weeping uncontrollably.”
“She has the sense that dark times are coming,” Delphie said with a nod. “Her capacities are too immature to determine what is on her horizon. She just has a sense that something is near. She’s terrified.”
Sam put his hand on Delphie’s knee to encourage her to talk.
“For all of the hard things that Ivy’s been through, she’s never had to deal with feeling unsafe in the world at large,” Delphie said with a nod.
“I don’t think any of us has,” Sam said.
“Do you think there’s any way to keep this from happening?” Sam asked.
Delphie shook her head.
“It’s already coming,” Delphie said. “You can’t stop this kind of thing once the spark lives inside the breasts of so many people.”
Sam raised his eyebrows, and Delphie nodded.
“Why?” Sam asked. “Why do you think it’s happening here, now?”
“There are so many answers to that question that it’s like there is no answer,” Delphie said.
Sam looked at her for a moment, and she sighed.
“Let’s see,” Delphie said after a moment. “Probably the best answer is that the world has fundamentally changed.”
“Changed?” Sam asked.
“A lot of people don’t want the world to change,” Delphie nodded. “They will do anything in their power to keep things the same.”
“I never thought this kind of thing would happen here,” Sam said.
“It’s just another lesson,” Delphie said. “This kind of thing can happen anywhere at any time.”
“I just wonder what we need to do to get through,” Sam said. “I guess …”
Delphie turned her head to look at his face.
“I’d hate for our happy family here at the Castle to be torn apart,” Sam said.
“I don’t think it will,” Delphie said.
“But you don’t know,” Sam said.
Delphie shook her head.
“Then we have to work to get everyone on the same page,” Sam said.
“I think we already are,” Delphie said. “All of the kids work in job that didn’t exist when you and I were coming of age.”
They stared off in opposite directions. After a while, Sam scanned Delphie’s face.
“The wedding was so beautiful,” Sam said, shifting to a topic that gave Delphie great joy.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen or facilitated a wedding as deep and beautiful as Jill and Jacobs,” Delphie said with a nod. “I was a little offended that they wanted to have a wedding in the church. Despite what Jacob and Jill said, I felt like my best work was not simply good enough.”
Sam waited for her to collect her thoughts. She nodded.
“Yesterday’s wedding was … gorgeous,” Delphie said. “The entire wedding was seeped in ancient symbols and meaning. I was overwhelmed with the specter of it. It’s like Jill, Jacob, MJ, Honey, Sandy, and Aden stood proudly in the place of all of their forefathers. The gravity of the event was clear and stunningly beautiful.”
Sniffing back her tears of wonder, Delphie nodded. Sam smiled.
“Even with all of the chaos from the Gods of War and Perses and everything,” Delphie said.
“Oh?” Sam scowled. “Was there some kind of chaos?”
“I must have missed it,” Sam said.
“That’s okay,” Delphie said. “It all ended up well.”
“That’s good,” Sam said with a nod. “Coming to bed?”
“In a minute,” Delphie said.
Sam rolled over and went to sleep. Delphie said a silent prayer that love would overcome prejudice and peace. She slipped out of her clothes and into her nightgown. Long after Sam had fallen asleep, Delphie stared at the ceiling praying that they would make it through.
Monday night — 10:05 p.m.
“Are you sure you’re okay with me staying here?” Tanesha whispered to Jeraine. “Working on the mobile medical unit?”
They were lying naked, wrapped around each other, in her bed in the basement of their small yellow house.
“I think it’s great that you have the opportunity,” Jeraine said with a smile. “You’re really making your dream happen.”
“So are you,” Tanesha said.
“You’re still planning on coming when you can, right?” Jeraine asked.
“And you’ll come here,” Tanesha nodded.
“When I can,” Jeraine said. “Probably just when we’re in the states.”
“Which is the next two months, right?” Tanesha asked.
Jeraine nodded. She kissed him.
“I already have the tickets for the rest of the summer and the fall,” Jeraine said.
“I’m glad,” Tanesha smiled. He grinned at her.
“I wanted to ask you something,” Jeraine said.
“Jabari loves his school,” Jeraine said in a matter of fact tone.
“He does,” Tanesha said, with a smile.
“I wonder if it might make sense for him to stay here,” Jeraine said.
Tanesha gave him a concerned look.
“I don’t want to burden you with him,” Jeraine said. “I know you’re not in school right now, but you’re working on the mobile medical unit and everything.”
“Jabari is not burden,” Tanesha said. “He’s our son. Plus, he has school and…”
“And?” Jeraine asked.
“He loves my mom and dad,” Tanesha said. “Your parents and the crew at the Castle. I think he has a crush on Maggie.”
“Maggie?” Jeraine asked.
“Honey and MJ’s little girl,” Tanesha said.
“I think I have a crush on Maggie!” Jeraine said with a grin.
“She is pretty awesome,” Tanesha said. “Anyway, my point was that I can get help from lots of people including Heather and Blane, who are upstairs.”
“Won’t you miss him?” Tanesha asked. “Didn’t he and mom help you stay sober?”
“They were helpful,” Jeraine said. “What helped the most was me doing my own work — going to meetings, talking to my sponsor.”
“Imagine that,” Tanesha said.
“I think it will be a good challenge for me to see if I can do it on my own,” Jeraine said.
“And if you can’t?” Tanesha asked. “Is it worth risking?”
“If I can’t, I’ll call and we’ll figure something else out,” Jeraine said.
“Are you already planning some whoring and drugging time?” Tanesha asked.
“Why is that funny?” Tanesha asked.
“I’ll get kicked off the tour if I’m using,” Jeraine said. “They test me and everyone on the tour every day. If you don’t believe me, you can ask your mom.”
Tanesha touched his face.
“I believe that you want to be clean,” Tanesha said. “I guess, I’m just scared it won’t be enough.”
“I’m scared, too,” Jeraine said. “But I have to try it at some point.”
“Are you willing to try?” Jeraine asked.
“I am,” Tanesha said. “You?”
“I am ready to get it done,” Jeraine said.
Tanesha smiled. Chuckling at her, he slipped on top of her.
Tuesday morning — 8:00 a.m.
“Seth?” Mrs. Helen Siegle, the head of the Marlowe school, asked from the doorway of her office. “Oscar?”
Seth and the heavy set man sitting near him looked up.
“Please come in,” Helen said.
Seth waited for the man to get up before following him into Helen’s office. The man heaved himself into a seat in front of the principal’s desk. Seth pulled a chair next to him and sat down.
“Have you met?” Helen asked.
The man turned to look at Seth. He nodded.
“You’re O’Malley,” the man said. “Everybody knows that.”
“I am,” Seth said. “And you are?”
“Oscar Grandy.” The man held out his hand and Seth shook it.
“Nice to meet you,” Seth said.
“Do you know why you’re here?” Helen asked Oscar.
“Just that you wanted to talk to me about my kid,” Oscar nodded.
“It’s come to my attention that you’re son has been calling Rachel Ann Norsen derogatory names,” Helen said.
“Oh yea?” Oscar asked.
“He’s been calling her a ‘kike,’” Seth said.
“Isn’t that what she is?” Oscar asked with a shrug. “Anyway, what’s she to you?”
“She’s my granddaughter,” Seth said. “She is my daughter Sandy’s child.”
“Aren’t you a kike? You look like one,” Oscar asked with a snort of laughter. “Doesn’t that make her one, too?”
Seth looked at Oscar and blinked. Helen cleared her throat.
“Do you know what the word means?” Helen asked.
“It means filthy Jew bitch,” Oscar said.
Seth blinked at him. He was stunned by this man openly admitting his racism. He looked at the principal. She looked as shocked as he was.
“Actually,” Seth said, carefully picking his words, “it technically means an uneducated Jewish person from Eastern Europe. It was a term developed at Ellis Island as many immigrants were unable to sign their names.”
Seth nodded to Oscar.
“Yeah, so? Looks like a kike, walks like a kike — it’s a kike,” Oscar said. “That’s what you are O’Malley. Just is what it is.”
“Well, if we’re looking at accuracy, Rachel’s father and mother are Catholic, as I am Catholic as was my mother,” Seth said, primly. “If you’re referring to my father, he and his parents were born in New York. None of his family descended from anyone from Eastern Europe. So use of the word is inaccurate.”
Oscar gave him a confused look.
“So, what?” Oscar asked, with a shrug. “Once a Jew, always a Jew.”
Just as Seth felt compelled to tell this man that Islamic terrorists believed that all Christians were Jews, Helen cleared her throat. He bit his lip in the hopes of not jumping up and strangling the man.
“The point here is that the word is ugly and a put-down,” Helen said. “We don’t allow put-downs or any kind of bullying at the Marlowe School.”
“Bullying?” Oscar asked. “Calling a spade a spade is bullying?”
“Calling a child a disgusting name is a put-down,” Helen said.
“Are you trying to pussify my son?” Oscar asked.
As if he’d proved something, his face shifted into a smug sneer. Helen and Seth stared at the man.
“I won’t have my son turned into some artsy fartsy politically correct pansy,” Oscar said.
Seth cleared his throat.
“Be that as it may,” Seth said. “I respectfully ask you to ask your son to stop using the name. My granddaughter is terrified of him.”
“Good,” Oscar said. “She should be.”
“Why is it good that Rachel is afraid of your son?” Helen asked.
“There’s too much politically correct bullshit going around now,” Oscar said. “I’d rather have my son be strong and able. I want him to grow into a man, like me. My son should call a spade a spade. When he sees a Jewess, he should call it what it is.”
“I’m sure that’s true, but …” Seth started.
“My son will be a white man,” Oscar sneered at Seth. “A white Christian man.”
Seth cursed himself. His father, Bernie, had told him to expect this kind of response, but Seth had refused to believe that this vile racial hatred still existed in 2016. Rather than give this bully the satisfaction of his anger, Seth nodded to Helen and got up.
“I believe you have some things to discuss,” Seth said.
“You know, I never wanted my kid to go to this pansy school,” Oscar said. “That was the ex-wife’s doing. She gets it free from her job so I haven’t complained. Why is Rachel here?”
“Her father is Aden Norsen,” Helen said.
“Who’s that?” Oscar asked.
“The CEO of Lipson Construction,” Helen said.
“Oh, I see,” Oscar said. “The rich get what they want while real men like me have to bend over.”
Oscar sniffed at Helen. He got up from his chair and left the office. Helen looked at Seth.
“We’d better follow him,” Seth said.
They raced after the man as he stalked down the hallway. He reached the room where Rachel went to class. With Seth and Helen just behind him, he grabbed a little boy’s arm.
“We’re leaving,” Oscar said.
“He’s not the custodial parent,” the teacher yelled as Oscar dragged the child out of his seat.
The children in the room started to scream.
“Did you know that?” Seth asked Helen.
“Yes, but his mother arranged for the father to be here,” Helen said with nod. “She wanted the child’s father to hear this.”
The security guard came into the room behind them. Oscar, with the child in tow, ran right into Seth. Seth looked down at the boy. His dark eyes were wide in absolute terror. His entire body was shaking.
“You can’t take the child,” Helen said.
“What’re you going to do?” Oscar asked with a sneer at Helen.
Oscar moved close to Helen and Seth shifted her behind him. Oscar laughed at Seth and pulled a handgun. The teacher screamed for the children to get to their hiding places but the children in the classroom too terrified to listn. The security guard responded by pulling his gun. Seth raised his hands.
Out of nowhere, a black and white cat jumped onto Oscar’s arm. The cat viciously scratched Oscar’s arm. He let go of his child and Helen snatched the boy away. Distracted by the cat, Oscar dropped the handgun. The weapon hit the ground hard and fired into the wall. The security guard grabbed Oscar. Seth put his foot over the gun.
As fast as the entire event developed, it was suddenly over. The security guard escorted Oscar out of the room. Sheltering the child, Helen brought him to the office. Seth went out into the hall to wait for the police. An hour later, Seth checked in with Helen before leaving.
“What was that thing?” Helen asked.
“What thing?” Seth asked.
“Something scratched Oscar’s arm,” Helen said. “I didn’t ask because I was glad he let go of his son.”
“You didn’t see anything?” Seth asked.
Helen shook her head.
“You?” Helen asked.
“I saw a cat,” Seth said.
“You think it’s another ghost?” Helen asked.
“Probably,” Seth said. “The best kind of ghost — one that protects children and all costs.”
Helen looked at the ceiling and the walls.
“I love this old building, but …” Helen nodded. “It’s kind of a trip, you know?”
Seth grinned at her. He held out an arm and gave Helen an open hug.
“If you need me, you know where to find me,” Seth said.
“You’re in town until Sandy and Aden get back,” Helen asked.
“I am,” Seth said. “I’ll be here this afternoon to pick up Rachel.”
“Good,” Helen said.
Seth raised a hand in goodbye. He was in the car when he realized that they hadn’t talked to the child about calling Rachel names. He almost called Helen back. Shaking his head, he decided that he’d ask Rachel about it later today. This kind of thing is never ended on the first try. He started the car and headed for home.
Tuesday mid-morning — 10:05 a.m.
He looked up when he heard his name. He had given Aden’s secretary the week off because he was just holding the place together, not changing anything. When no one appeared at his open door, he got up and went to the door of Aden’s office. The controller was standing next to a woman, who was on her knees. When the woman looked up at Blane, he could see that she was hysterically crying. He gave the controller a concerned look.
“He’s here,” the controller said.
The woman looked up at the controller.
“Would you like me to tell him?” the controller asked.
The woman nodded her head.
“There’s been an incident at the Marlowe School,” the controller said. “Jen’s ex-husband had some kind of misunderstanding with Seth O’Malley. He then went to their child’s classroom to take the child. In the process, he discharged a handgun in the classroom.”
“Was anyone hurt?” Blane asked.
“He has some deep scratch marks on his arm,” the controller said. “He’s saying the shooting is justifiable due to the scratches and the altercation with Seth.”
“A conversation with Seth O’Malley caused someone to become violent in a classroom?” Blane asked, his voice filled with surprise. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to indicate that you’re lying. I just can’t imagine it.”
The controller nodded and shrugged.
“Why don’t you come into Aden’s office and we’ll sort this out?” Blane asked.
He leaned down to help the woman to her feet. With the controller on one side and Blane on the other, they guided the woman into his office. Once she was settled in a chair, Blane gave Jen a box of tissues and took his time making tea for everyone. By the time he sat down in Aden’s chair, the woman had stopped crying.
“How can I help?” Blane asked.
“Jen is one of the women we hired from the women’s shelter,” the controller said.
Blane nodded that he remembered this initiative.
“She’s worked here for …” the controller looked at Jen.
“A little more than year,” Jen said.
“She is an entry level accountant,” the controller said. “She’s been going to school through our accounting program. She has a real aptitude for it.”
Jen gave Blane a watery smile.
“I really love my job,” Jen said. “It’s the only thing that keeps my son and I off the streets. We’re just starting to get on our feet when this … this …”
Tears ran down Jen’s face.
“Jen’s afraid that she will lose her job,” the controller said.
“For something your ex-husband did?” Blane asked.
“Because she told him to go to the appointment,” the controller said.
“I’ve been telling him that he can’t use racial slurs around our child,” Jen said. “I thought if he heard it from someone else, he might actually listen.”
“Makes sense,” Blane nodded.
“So it’s all my fault,” Jen said. “My son is … I mean, I didn’t know he was calling little Rachel names. I know Aden would be furious and …”
“You’re afraid Aden is going to blame you for what happened?” Blane asked.
“They just moved into an apartment of their own,” the controller said.
“If I lose this job, we’re back on the streets,” Jen said.
“Or they have to move back in with her ex,” the controller said.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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