CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY-EIGHT
“You?” Heather asked.
“I was driving home and had this panic that Enrique would return to our lives,” Blane said. “Take over my life. Our life. Our boys lives! I think I had a full blown panic attack. My heart was pounding and my ears ringing. I could see you and Tres getting together and Enrique running my life. You’d push me aside, and I’d … have to fight for custody for the boys and … I’d lose because Mack’s not my biological son … Oh, God, losing Mack would kill me … and no one would let me have Wyn without Mack and … I mean how can a disgusting faggot be trusted with a child? The whole world would look into our life and judge us: ‘How could she believe that the creature loved her?’ ‘How do they have sex?’ ‘What about sex!? They must have sex all the time! They never have sex! How can they survive?’ ‘She’s such a fool! He’s such a louse!’”
“A louse?” Heather asked with a smile.
She took his shaking hands into hers. He blew out a breath.
“I’d really hate that,” Blane said.
“I’d really hate that, too,” Heather said with a smile. “What if we just don’t …”
“Do that?” They finished the question in unison. Heather’s head went up and down in a slow nod. His head mimicked hers in a nod. He smiled causing her to grin at him.
“No jealousy,” Heather said.
“We can try,” Blane said. “I don’t want to let you go.”
“Then don’t,” Heather said, with a shrug. “I don’t want to let you go, either.”
“It will take lots of conversation,” Blane said.
“Honesty,” Heather said.
“Always honest,” Blane said. “Yes.”
“What is it?” Heather asked.
“There were these men …” He looked up to see if she was listening. She nodded. “When I was a chef, before Enrique, I think or … anyway … There were these two old guys; they called themselves ‘Queers’. They came in every Thursday night and always asked to have me visit their table. They wanted me to come home with them. It had to be before Enrique because Enrique was so possessive that they would never want to risk his wrath. Of course, that didn’t stop Enrique from spending a few nights with them.”
“I’m not very possessive,” Heather said. “Or violent.”
“But you are a Goddess,” Blane said. “You could really fuck my shit. For the rest of this life and any other.”
“Why would I do that?” Heather asked.
Rather than answer, Blane continued his story.
“So, these two old queers would come in on Thursday nights and ask to see the chef,” Blane said. “They’d proposition me. I didn’t think much about it because …”
“Lots of men propositioned you,” Heather said.
“No,” Blane said. He blushed. “That’s not what I mean.”
Heather grinned at his modesty. He was smart, kind, and very handsome. He was hit on by a lot of men and women everywhere he went.
“My point is this — they’d both been married to women,” Blane said. “They’d gone to Vietnam and returned to their high school girlfriends. Like good little boys, they married these girlfriends and had kids. One had four kids and the other three. These men hated their wives. Just despised them. They felt like these women forced them to be something they weren’t. The men met when their children were small and carried on together …”
“Cheating,” Heather said. “Let’s agree not to go behind each other’s back. That’s cheating.”
Blane acknowledged her reframe with a nod.
“Their wives didn’t know. They stayed in their marriages until the children graduated high school,” Blane said. “One day, they just left — walked out. They bragged about how shocked and devastated these ‘bitches’ were, as if these poor women got what they deserved. They felt like they had slaved away at jobs to support their wives’ ‘brats.’ Of course, the ‘brats’ didn’t want anything to do with their fathers.”
“Sounds like they have smart kids,” Heather said.
“No doubt,” Blane said. “Of course, that was their ex-wives fault that the kids hate their fathers.”
“Why is that not a surprise?” Heather asked.
Blane’s eyes shifted to Heather for a moment, as if he was assessing her words. After a moment, he nodded and continued.
“Their vitriol was at their wives, their old life, even their kids — it was… shocking. You’d have to be insane to not think your kids would hate you after how you treated their mother. But the fathers felt abandoned by their kids, who they suffered so much for…”
“Like their kids asked them to suffer,” Heather said.
“ … which they blamed on their now ex-wives,” Blane said.
“Of course,” Heather said.
“The Queers both quit their jobs leaving their wives penniless,” Blane said.
“After all, the children were already gone,” Heather said. “They didn’t have to pay these women to raise children anymore.”
Blane gave her a sad nod.
“One of the mothers lost everything,” Blane said. “They used to laugh about how she had to move back to her parents’ home or be homeless. The other woman caught Hep C from them. So funny, ha-ha — marry a woman, impregnate her, get her sick, and leave her penniless. Ha-ha. So funny. Let’s tell the story and laugh again. After all, these women deserved it because they had the gall to marry the Queers in the first place.”
“Doesn’t sound really brave,” Heather said.
“No, it’s not brave,” Blane said.
“Doesn’t sound like you or me then,” Heather said.
Blane shrugged. Blane and Heather sat with their own thoughts for a moment.
“You planning on doing that?” Heather asked.
“I was thinking about having a friend,” Blane said.
“With sexual privileges?” Heather asked.
“Just a friend,” Blane said. “Maybe sex down the line somewhere. I don’t know. That’s not what I’m thinking, at least now.”
“Is it too weird for us to talk about it as it goes?” Blane asked.
“Not too weird to me,” Heather said. “I’d want to talk to you about it.”
“You’re going to …” Blane said.
“I hadn’t really thought about it,” Heather said. “The kids and everything, you, Tanesha, now Chet. Every week, it seems like something new.”
Blane nodded in agreement.
“I saw Tres at Lipson,” Blane said. “He asked about you.”
“He wouldn’t really be friend,” Heather said. “At least, I don’t think that I could be his friend.”
“No, he wouldn’t,” Blane said.
“Is Nelson?” Heather asked. “Can you be his friend?”
“I don’t know,” Blane said. “Probably not.”
“He’s very handsome,” Blane said.
“Hunky,” Heather said. “Smart. Kind.”
They nodded in unison. After a while, he looked up at Heather.
“I’ll just forget the whole thing,” Blane said.
“Just because I’m not there yet, doesn’t mean you should forget the whole thing,” Heather said.
“What does it mean?” Blane asked.
Heather held out her hand and Blane took it.
“I think we take it one step at a time,” Heather said.
“We started this journey together,” Heather said. “But it’s a journey. It wasn’t an end point or a pact. Our commitment was to the journey. I don’t think those ‘old queers’ had the same kind of commitment.”
“We promised to take this journey together,” Blane said with a nod.
“And it’s been a journey,” Heather said. “We had Mack. We’ve made our way through your illness, your miraculous recovery …”
“You becoming a Goddess,” Blane said. “Having Wyn.”
“Adopting Tink,” Heather said. “Moving out of our home.”
“Starting my business,” Blane said. “Taking care of Tanesha and Jabari.”
“All that travel to studying acupuncture,” Heather said. “And traveling to help Alex and her team.”
“And now Chet,” Blane said. “And everything else.”
“As some point, we will take this next step in our relationship,” Heather said. “The journey is our journey. That is the very heart of our relationship.”
“You don’t feel betrayed?” Blane asked.
“A little scared,” Heather said. “I’d hate it if you weren’t right in the middle of my life. For all of my long life, Blane, I’ve never had such a good friend, supportive partner as you. You are a wonderful soul. These last years have been a tremendous blessing. I’ve been so very happy.”
“Yes, me too,” Blane said.
“So it’s a risk,” Heather said. “But one we were bound to have to take. Someday.”
“Someday,” Blane repeated.
“Someday happens to be now,” Heather said.
Blane gave her a soft smile. He reached out his hand and she took it. They fell silent, each caught in their own thoughts, until long after their tea was cold.
Friday morning — 8:01 a.m.
“You can sit right there,” the female Deputy Denver Sheriff said.
The Deputy Sheriff gestured to a metal picnic bench. With her simple gesture, Candy Roper realized that the Deputy Sheriff might leave her alone with Jazmyne. The Deputy Sheriff read Candy like a book.
“I’ll get her and be right back,” the Deputy Sheriff said. “I can’t leave you alone with her.”
Candy felt her fear drain out of her. After a long sleepless night, Candy had decided that she would get up early and go to the Colorado Women’s Prison to see Jazmyne. It was the only way Candy could think of to get to the bottom of everything. There was a noise in the hallway and the Deputy Sheriff turned sideways.
Jill walked into the room. Candy’s heart leapt at the sight of her little sister.
“Thank you,” Jill said. “Sorry, I’m late. I was just parking the car.”
The female Deputy Sheriff gave Candy a nod and left the room.
“How did you know I’d …?” Candy asked.
“Delphie,” Jill said, as she sat down on Candy’s right, near the door.
“What about the boys and Jake and Katy and …?” Candy started.
“They’ll be fine without …” Jill started.
The door opened and both Jill and Candy caught their breath.
“One more straggler,” the Deputy Sheriff that had been there before said.
“Thank you,” their eldest sister, Megan said with a nod. “Just parking the …”
“Car, yes,” the Deputy Sheriff said. She looked down the line of them. “Funny how hard it is to park in our large, empty parking lot.”
The Deputy Sheriff cleared her throat and the Roper women looked embarrassed in unison.
“Sisters?” the Deputy Sheriff asked.
“Older,” Candy gestured to Megan. “Younger.” Candy gestured to Jill.
The Deputy Sheriff gave Candy a genuine smile. Megan stepped into the metal picnic bench on the other side of Candy.
“I’m glad they are here for you,” the Deputy Sheriff said.
Candy looked surprised. The Deputy Sheriff raised an eyebrow at Candy’s surprised.
“That woman is a candy coated monster,” the Deputy Sheriff said.
With that, the Deputy Sheriff left the room. The Roper women waited a moment before Candy leaned over.
“What are you doing here?” Candy asked.
Candy looked at Megan.
“We are not letting you do this alone,” Megan said. “No way.”
Candy turned to look at Jill. She nodded.
“I can do this,” Candy said. “I’m not the weak pile of mush I was when Jazmyne dumped me! I’ve been to therapy and …”
“No one said you were a weak pile of mush,” Megan said.
“You don’t have to do this alone,” Jill said. Megan nodded. “Plus, you’re always there for us. We’re just returning the favor.”
Candy leaned back in her chair and took a few breaths.
“I’m so angry that I …”Candy nodded. She gave her sisters a smile. “I’m really glad you’re here.”
Megan reached under the table and took Candy’s hand. Jill took the other one. They waited in anxious silence for what felt like a long time before the female Deputy Sheriff knocked on the door. She opened the door. Catching the Roper women’s eyes, the female Deputy Sheriff rolled her eyes before dragging Jazmyne into the room.
“I don’t want to talk to them,” Jazmyne said.
Jazmyne’s usually perfectly coifed hair had been shaved off. She wore shackles around her ankles. Her wrists were cuffed behind her back. Her skin was looked mottled and her eyes were red slits of anger. She looked almost nothing like the lovely, smart, in control woman she’d been.
“It’s them or back to solitary,” the Deputy Sheriff said.
“I want to talk to her,” Jazmyne gestured with her cuffed hands at Candy.
“I want a million dollars,” the Deputy Sheriff said. “What’s it going to be? Talk to them or back to solitary?”
Jazmyne sniffed in Candy’s direction.
“I’m not playing with you,” the Deputy Sheriff said. “If I take you back to solitary, you’ll spend the rest of the day there. No take backs. No changing your mind.”
Jazmyne sniffed at the Deputy Sheriff. She shot Candy a hard look, turned around, and walked out the door. The Deputy Sheriff gave the Roper women another eye roll.
“Stay here,” the Deputy Sheriff said. “I’ll take you back up front.”
Candy, Jill, and Megan saw the back of the Deputy Sheriff for a moment. There was a solid smack and the Deputy Sheriff dropped to all fours. Closed to the action, Jill jumped to her feet. Candy and Megan stood up. Jazmyne spit at the Deputy Sheriff. Jazmyne gave the Deputy Sheriff a hard kick and sinisterly stepped toward them.
Megan moved to the telephone on the wall, and Jill stepped forward. She was surprised to see Candy by her side.
“Colin,” Candy said under her breath.
“What chu goin’ do to me?” Jazmyne started. “Weak.”
Jazmyne took a step toward them.
Jazmyne took another step toward them. One more step and the woman would be on them. Jill got ready to fight.
Candy’s right palm shot out in a forward punch. She caught Jazmyne under the chin. Jazmyne’s head snapped back and she tipped backward.
“How’s that for weak?” Candy yelled.
As Jazmyne fell backward, Deputy Sheriffs and guards ran down the hallway. Jazmyne hit the ground and Jill and Candy stepped forward. Jazmyne bounced once and the Deputy Sheriffs and guards were on Jazmyne.
“Whoo hoo!” Jill cheered.
The sisters cheered and hugged each other. Megan joined their hug. They stayed in this tight formation until they’d taken the unconscious Deputy Sheriff away.
“Excuse me,” a male Deputy Sheriff said. “I need to take statements from you.”
“There are two cameras here,” Megan pointed to the one in the corner and one in the hallway.
“We just need to know a few things,” the male Deputy Sheriff said. “Please.”
The male Deputy Sheriff gestured toward metal picnic table. Megan helped Candy back the bench and they sat down. Jill sat down after them. The male deputy sat across from them.
“I need to know why you’re here,” he said.
“I came to be with my sister.” Used to taking the lead, Megan spoke first.
“You’re sisters?” the male deputy asked.
“Eldest,” Megan said. She pointed to Jill. “Youngest.”
“Why does she look so different?” the male deputy asked.
“I have a different father,” Candy said.
“But you’re from the first guy?” the male deputy asked.
“Do we need a lawyer?” Jill asked. She dug around in her purse for a moment. “Will you please call our attorney? They took our cellphones.”
Jill plopped Samantha Hargreaves’s card on the table. The male deputy read the card and seemed to swallow hard.
“My daughter is her nephew’s best friend,” Jill said. “My husband is their contractor.”
“You’re Katy’s mom?” the male deputy asked before he could check himself. He winced, and then said, “She’s a great kid.”
“She is,” Jill said. “If you know the family, Candy is the head cake and pastry baker at Cian and Eoin’s bakery.”
The male deputy winced again.
“Listen, let’s just wrap this up,” the male deputy said. He nodded to Candy. “Why did you come here?”
Candy gulped a breath before she started talking.
“I … uh … I dating Jazmyne for a long time,” Candy said. “She left me for the woman …”
“Why did you come here?” the male deputy asked.
“When we were together, my brother gave me some of his sperm because Jazmyne wanted to have a child,” Candy said. “I thought it would be cool to have a child with Jazmyne and my brother’s sperm. She threw me out and wouldn’t give me my stuff. My family had to sue to get my stuff back but I forgot all about the sperm.”
“Roper?” the male deputy asked. “You’re not talking about Mike Roper, are you?”
“He’s our brother,” Megan said. “Why?”
“I went to basic with him,” the male deputy said. He rubbed his head like he’d just developed a headache, and asked again, “Why did you come here?”
“My brother was contacted yesterday by Social Services,” Candy said. “They told us that Jazmyne or her partner — we’re not sure — used Mike’s sperm to have one of the kids. I wanted to talk to Jazmyne about that.”
“We came to support Candy,” Megan said. “Candy had a hard time getting out of the relationship.”
“Did she learn that trick in their relationship?” the male deputy asked.
“The one I used on Jazmyne?” Candy asked. “No, I learned that from Colin Harg …”
The male deputy stood up.
“Why don’t you head out?” the male deputy asked. “The numbers you gave the desk? I can get in touch with you there?”
The women nodded.
“We’ll be in touch,” the male deputy said.
He led them to the front of the waiting room at the front. He stood with them until they received their phones and possessions. They walked out of the prison.
“Well …” Megan said. Candy and Jill looked at her for a moment. “Breakfast?”
Candy and Jill laughed. Megan grabbed her sisters and they held each other tight. After a moment, they separated and laughed.
“I’ll drive,” Megan said.
They were walking to Megan’s car when she asked, “Where did you learn that? And Jilly, you were right there! Ready to fight! I need details.”
Candy and Jill laughed.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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