#25 – A Child Changes Everything
- Leticia McKinelle‘s father died and left his estate to his widow Clara Preston.
- Leticia hatched a plot to find evidence with which to contest the will.
- Trevor Jordan offered to help Leticia get the info on Clara, but she declined.
- Frank Denzre was taken to the emergency room at Bayview Hospital.
- Jehua Stanley and Kerstin Waterford had a near-miss romantic moment.
- Teens Isaac and Owen were witnesses to a fatal accident.
“Make it snappy,” Leticia mocked as she climbed the spiral staircase that lead to the second floor of Pinewood Manor. Those were the words of the woman who had married her father and convinced him – somehow – to change his will. Now, Leticia just needed to prove how; to prove that Clara had manipulated him. She needed to find the evidence that would allow her to contest the will and reclaim her family’s heritage.
“What the f…” Leticia breathed as she walked past the door to the suite that had been hers only days before. “You have got to be kidding me.” She stared in disbelief for long moments; there was nothing recognizable about the space at all. The colours on the walls, the furnishings, in fact the very purpose of the room had changed. What had once been her bedroom was now filled with a number of expensive looking pieces of exercise equipment and an obscenely large television.
She shook her head, “god damned bitch. I can’t wait until I can…” she continued fuming as she moved along the hallway to the room in which the few things that remained in the house that belonged to her were located.
She stopped in the entrance to the room and studied the boxes for a few moments before casting a glance to the next door along the opposite wall. It led to her father’s office, which, no doubt, contained the information that she was looking for.
She glanced down the hall and listened intently to see if Clara was anywhere nearby before she slipped across the hall and opened the door to her father’s office. It was unlocked, as usual, and she ducked inside and pushed the door closed quietly behind her.
The office was ceiling to floor bookshelves all filled with binders, files and other miscellany of a decades long life in finances. Leticia had absolutely no idea where to begin.
She stepped behind her father’s desk and immediately felt herself overcome with emotion. It was the first time since his death that she’d been in a space that he had occupied for a significant portion of his life and so many thoughts and feeling came suddenly flooding into her mind. “I love you, Daddy,” she whispered as she pulled the drawer open and began to rifle through the papers and notes therein.
She was several minutes and only a tiny fraction in to her search when it all came to a screeching halt.
“What the hell are you doing?” Clara roared from the office doorway.
“Are you okay dear?”
The voice seemed disembodied at first, coming from everywhere around her and from right inside her head at the same time. She blinked her eyes and her blurry eyesight began to clear. She mumbled something that was neither articulate to the other woman nor to herself.
“Are you okay dear?” The woman repeated. Kerstin began to be able to focus on her. She looked at the blue eyes and the nurses scrubs and winced as the throb in her head returned with a vengeance.
“What happened?” She said groggily.
“You fainted,” the woman explained, “right at the nurses’ station.”
Kerstin raised her hand to her head, and another jolt of pain shot across her skull, “ow,” she said, “that hurts.”
“It’s apt to, you fell pretty hard.” The nurse explained. “You asked a question about the boy from the accident and then, wham, down you went.”
The boy. Kerstin’s mind seemed to sharpen at hearing those words. “Wilson’s disease,” she repeated. “He’s got Wilson’s?”
The nurse nodded and brought a cup, presumably filled with water, to Kerstin’s lips. It was then that she became aware that she was in an upright hospital bed. She pushed herself up slightly and looked around. Frank was nowhere in sight. The nurse spoke, “yes, he has Wilson’s. Do you know something about him? So far we haven’t been able to find out anything about him.”
“It’s rare,” Kerstin said after taking a sip of the water. “Wilson’s disease is rare, isn’t it?”
The nurse nodded, “something like one in a hundred thousand,” she said, “it’s genetic, too. We don’t think he was being treated for it before now.”
Kerstin winced, although her head was hurting her less and less with every passing minute. “Where’s Frank?” She asked.
The nurse looked perplexed, “Frank?”
“I was here, in the hospital, to see him. They moved him… to room 416. That’s where I was headed when I bumped into… and then I ended up at the nurses’ station. I was headed to see Frank.”
“Oh,” the nurse said, somewhat deflatedly, “so you don’t know anything about the boy?”
Kerstin shook her head, “I’m sorry.” She stood, shakily, and made her way toward the door. The nurse pointed left and she stepped out of the room before turning back. “He’s getting treatment now, though, right? The boy I mean?”
The nurse nodded.
“Son?” Gordon said, drawing Jehua’s attention away from the invoices he’d been filling out.
He knew that his father would seek him out eventually. After leaving The P & Q the night before to take Kerstin to the emergency room at Bayview he hadn’t gone back to work, instead he had gone home to the Hunting Lodge. He’d hoped that his father would respect the privacy that he so earnestly needed and his hope had borne out.
But there was little hope that Gordon would leave the topic unspoken of in the long term. And it seemed to Jehua, from his father’s tone of voice, that the time of unspokenness was about to be over. “Yeah, Dad?” He said without inflection.
“I wanted to talk you.” Gordon began, “you know, about last night. About what… about what I saw, Jehua.”
Jehua sighed, “yeah.” He paused, then said, “it was a mistake.”
Gordon nodded, “I know we never really talked about all that happened between the two of you in Grand City, but you know… I’m your Dad Jeh, it’s never too late to talk.”
Jehua chuckled, “yeah, Dad, I know. It’s just hard, y’know? I don’t really even know what to say about it… and it’s been 10 years. I loved her… and then she just… she started ignoring me, then all of a sudden she was just… gone.”
Gordon nodded and placed his hand on his son’s shoulder, but didn’t say anything. Jehua continued, “and I knew, y’know, that she was from here. Even then. And I knew that she moved back a few months ago. I wanted to talk to her again, to ask her what happened with us.” He looked up into his father’s eyes, “but I just couldn’t, Dad. And then… then she came in here, and you hired her.”
Gordon said, “I’m sorry.”
“No, Dad… that’s not what I mean. It was great. It was great to see her again, to be around her. We never talked about it, y’know, about what happened, but it was good to be around her. And then, last night… it just… I just… I couldn’t just watch and just be her anymore… I had to see if…” His voice trailed off.
“Jehua, do you love her, son?”
Jehua nodded, “yeah. I never stopped, Dad.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“What other choice did I have?”
“Uh, to not hand over the God damned tapes, maybe?”
“Owen, they were going to put me in jail for Christ sake. I had to give them the tapes. They didn’t believe me when I told them that they weren’t recording.”
“But, man, my Mom works with those people.”
Isaac scoffed, “your Mom doesn’t work with those people, dude, she works against them most of the time. She works for Oliver-God-damned-Jordan.”
“Still man, they know her and they’re going to know that it’s me on the tape.” Owen Nightingale said.
“It’s evidence, they can’t just go around showing it to people who have no business seeing it, man.” Isaac said, “chill out. I mean, it’s just a blowjob.”
“That I was giving you,” Owen exclaimed. “Okay, that makes you, like, a stud… do you know what that makes me?.”
Isaac grinned, “pretty popular with me, actually.”
“I can’t believe that you’re being a smart-ass about this, what if they find out about this shit at school?”
“Owen, man, just chill the eff out. It’s not going to get out at all, let alone at school.” Owen put a hand on his buddy’s shoulder. “Now come on, just sit down and relax. You’re way too high strung.”
Owen sat on the edge of Isaac’s bed. Isaac nodded and smiled, “there… for God’s sake, I thought you were going to, like, bust a vein or something. Man, you need to decompress a bit.” He leaned down and kissed the other boy from his standing position.
He smiled as he pulled away, “nothing bad is going to happen, you can trust me to take care of you always.”
He took a step closer to the sitting boy and his smile turned into a more devilish grin, “now… how about you take care of me?”
“Leticia, I am shocked to hear from you,” the sarcasm in Trevor’s voice was painfully obvious, at least he hoped it was. “I guess your little plan worked out about as well as you excepted?”
“Shut up, okay?” Came her reply on the other end of the line. “So… about your idea…” she trailed off.
Trevor grinned in spite of himself. “Yeah,” he said, “so you need me to, like, get in there and get the goods on Mama for you?”
“She’s not my…” she sighed, “whatever. I’ve got to prove that Clara manipulated my father into changing his will. Can you do that? Can you find that information?”
“Oh, you don’t even know,” Trevor replied. “I’ll get that information…” he paused, “but first we need to talk money.”
“What?” Leticia said suddenly. “What do you mean?”
Trevor laughed, “you didn’t think I was doing this out of the goodness of my friggin’ heart did you? Nah, baby, I need cash.”
“How do I even know that you’re not going to just tell Clara my plan?”
Trevor scoffed, “she already holds all the cards. She probably already thinks you’re after her.”
“Good point.” Leticia admitted. “So, then, how much money are you looking for?”
“Say 20,000$ now, and 20,000$ when the job is done.”
“Are you kidding me?” Leticia asked.
Trevor smiled and chuckled, “nah, but then again, what other choice do you have? Do you want your father’s estate back, or do you want to let the bitch beat you? 20-Gs ain’t much to get that ball rolling, is it? And when we beat the bitch you’ll want to show me a little gratitude.”
“Fine,” she said after a period of silence. “Where can we meet?”
As she stepped through the door of room 416 Kerstin had hoped to see Frank Denzre sitting up and smiling, greeting her and possibly even making some sort of wisecrack about the fall that landed him in the hospital in the first place.
But that is not what she saw. Instead she was greeted with the same array of tubes and wires that she’d seen in the emergency room when she had first arrived in the hospital. She immediately walked up to the bed and took his hand in hers. “Frank,” she said softly; he didn’t wake or even stir.
She pulled a chair over from the corner and sat at the side of his bed.
“They asked me who else to call,” she said, “but I didn’t know anyone.” She rubbed the back of his hand as she spoke, “I don’t know your family or their names, or where they are.” She shook her head, “but it’s not going to matter because you’re going to wake up soon.” She wiped a tear away from her eye.
She puffed out her cheeks and looked around the room for a brief moment, “Jehua drove me down here last night from The P & Q. I came right away…” she chewed her lip, “I’m glad that I was… that they knew to call me.”
“I still haven’t told you about the history between Jehua and I.” She said with a half-choked chuckle, “you don’t know how many times I’ve managed to dodge telling people about that period of my life.” She shook her head, “we met in college and it was, like, instant romance. Totally whirlwind. He was a friend of a friend… but he got introduced to me as Jehua West – West his is Mom’s maiden name.”
“She’s dead,” Kerstin added. “Has been for a really long time.”
“If I’d known that he was a Stanley I probably wouldn’t have ever given him the time of day. Not because I didn’t like him, or because I have something against Stanleys, because I don’t. Their family and mine have been in this town forever. No, it’s just that in those days I was sort of on an anti-Emerald Heights kick. I moved to Grand City in order to get away from here… away from the people mostly.”
“But I didn’t know that he was from here – and he never told me. And I guess it shows how anti-social I am around this town because I didn’t even know he was from here until I went in for that job interview at The P & Q last month.”
“But back in Grand City we were… we were in love. And I was happy with him…” she trailed off, “and then… and then I got pregnant. I was 17 and… and I got scared. I got my aunt Gabby to help me get away… I went out west until it was time to… y’know… and then I came back to Grand City and… gave him up for adoption.”
She was crying openly as she held Frank’s limp hand in hers. “I’ve never told anyone else about that before… no one except my aunt Gabby ever knew… and she’s dead now.”
“But,” she said, “Frank… the boy that was in the accident out by the highway. I think… I think that’s my son.”
She stood and walked to the door; she looked down the hallway in the direction of the pediatric unit, “I think he’s out there right now… and what am I supposed to do? How can I go back and look Jehua in the face now without telling him the truth?”
“The truth about what?” She spun around suddenly and stared agape at Frank Denzre as he laid in the hospital bed. His eyes were open and he was rubbing them slowly with his fingers. “What truth are you supposed to tell Jehua Stanley?” He repeated.Tags:Bayview Hospital, Clara Preston-McKinelle, Frank Denzre, Jehua Stanley, Kerstin Waterford, Leticia McKinelle-Glendale, Trevor Jordan