#36 – In the Ashes

September 6th, 2012


Leticia glanced briefly at Frank as they approached the door to Lawrence Waterford’s hospital room.  Inside Kerstin Waterford was in the embrace of Jehua Stanley and a young boy who Leticia recognized as the boy from the news who had been adopted by the Stanleys some weeks before.  Leticia cleared her throat audibly and after glancing toward the door the trio split up.  Leticia caught her eye as Kerstin looked back and forth between Frank and Jehua; she quirked an eyebrow at her cousin.

“Are you okay?” Leticia asked as she crossed the room to stand beside Kerstin.

Kerstin nodded feebly, “I…  I’m doing… okay.”

Jehua, she noticed, took a reflexive step away from Kerstin as Frank Denzre stepped toward her.  “Frank,” Kerstin said softly, “thank you.”  Frank leaned in and kissed her on the cheek.

“I…  we… brought you some clothes, I hope they’re alright,” Frank said.

“They are,” Leticia assured.

“Thank you,” Kerstin repeated.

“Is there any news?” Leticia asked quietly.

“Uh… yeah,” Kerstin said and Leticia could see her eyes begin to wet.  “It’s not good.  They don’t know what’s keeping him in the coma.”  She shook her head and shrugged slightly, “They don’t know if he will wake up.”

“He will wake up,” Frank asserted.

“Don’t,” Kerstin said and Leticia saw her glance shift briefly to Jehua Stanley, “you don’t know that.” She began to sob openly.

Frank stepped in and wrapped his long arms around her.  She pressed herself against him tightly and wept against his chest.  Leticia glanced at Jehua Stanley, who stood with his hand on the shoulder of the young boy; he looked up at her for a moment and she could see that he, too, had tears in his eyes.

Jordan Estate“What did they have on you, Daddy?” Olivia Jordan asked after a few minutes of silence had permeated the large mahogany-walled room.


“What did the Waterfords have on you that they were going to use to stop you from taking over their company?”

“Paper,” Oliver Jordan replied, up to that point only half engaged in the conversation with his daughter, “paper my dear, can be a businessman’s worst enemy.”  He turned slightly in his chair and took hold of the rim of his glasses, “let me tell you, my daughter, that one of the worst mistakes a businessman can make is putting too much in writing.  Whatever you can make happen with a handshake or just words between men – people – you do it, do you hear me?  A death by a thousand cuts is particularly painful when it’s done with paper.”

Olivia nodded, “but the fire destroyed their papers.”

Oliver chuckled, “so it did.”  He tapped his pen on the edge of the desk, “when I was young – a little bit older than you are now – I was just starting out in business, and I… I made a few mistakes.”  He paused, “I hadn’t learned that I needed to find people I could trust and when I did I trusted the wrong people, I was too heavy handed in the way that I did things.”  He tossed the pen onto the desk, “I did too much of the work myself.”

“Were you going give in to them?”  Olivia asked after a moment, “were you going to give in to the Waterfords in the pool house?”

Oliver Jordan smiled at his daughter and shook his head, “as you said, my sweet, fire destroys paper.”

“I do not want to go to dinner at Red Terrace tonight,” Kerstin said as she stood in the small bathroom that adjoined Lawrence Waterford’s hospital room.

“But you have to go, you know,” Leticia reminded her.

“I don’t have to go,” Kerstin protested weakly.  She sounded to Leticia rather like a child at bedtime.

“You do,” Leticia stated emphatically.  She didn’t, however, and she didn’t really want to go, either.   “Now get in the shower.”

Leticia lifted herself up onto the small bathroom counter as Kerstin drew the shower curtain closed, “thank you for coming,” Kerstin said after a moment under the warm water.

“What do you mean?”

“For coming to the hospital and to Red Terrace, I know that can’t be easy for you.”

“I…  yeah, no not really.  But I wanted to be there for you…”

“I…  I am sorry that I haven’t been able to be there for you,” Kerstin said.  She pulled the shower curtain back far enough to be able to look out at Leticia, “really, I am.”

Leticia nodded, “I know, K.”

“So, how are you doing?”


“How are you doing?” Kerstin repeated.

“I’m okay,” Leticia replied casually.

“Let, you’re not with Pammy or Dick right now, it’s me, remember.  So, how are you doing?”

“I… I’m having nightmares,” Leticia replied.

“Oh wow, Let, I’m so sorry.” Kerstin said as she peeled the curtain back again, “of the fire?  Leticia, you didn’t kill that guy…  he had a gun on you.  All you did was defend yourself.”

Leticia nodded absently.  It was a fire that she was having nightmares of, but it wasn’t that fire.  The death of the anonymous henchman of Oswald Glendale barely registered on the list of things for which she felt guilty.  It was the fire at Red Terrace that was giving her nightmares.  The fire that started while she was unconscious on the floor of a sauna; the fire during which she had awakened and fled without concern for anyone but herself.  The fire that killed Kirk Waterford and Senator Charles Taylor, that put Kerstin’s father in a coma; and the fire that scarred her ex-husband Oswald Glendale, but didn’t kill him.  “Yeah,” she said.

Kerstin appeared once more from behind the shower curtain, “seriously, Leticia, don’t blame yourself.  You only did what you had to do.  It was either him or you.”

Either him or you, she repeated to herself.  But in the end, when it counted, it was neither.  For all the death and destruction that the fire had brought, that she felt she had allowed to happen, Oswald Glendale was alive.

“Hey, hey buddy,” Frank said as he approached Jehua Stanley in the hall at Bayview Hospital.

“Yeah,” Jehua said as he turned, “Frank, is that it?”

“Yeah,” Frank said, drawing out the word, “so, uh, hey, it’s nice of you to come and see my girlfriend when she’s all sad and shit.  But she’s a little vulnerable right now so how about you don’t try to put the moves on her in her Dad’s hospital room, heh?”

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” Frank said.  He glanced down at the young boy standing beside Jehua Stanley and added, “how about you let me and Daddy talk while you go over there and play?”

James looked up at Jehua who nodded, “it’s okay pal.”

After James had stepped out of earshot Frank began, “what did you think bringing the kid would accomplish?”

“Are you kidding me with this shit?” Jehua said, “Kerstin and I work together and that’s my nephew.”  He opened his mouth as if she was going to continue but then didn’t.

Frank quirked an eyebrow, “yeah, I know that,” Frank said, although he hadn’t known that the kid was Jehua’s nephew.  “I’ve seen the way that you look at her, bud, and I don’t like it.  And I didn’t much care for the scene I walked in on back in Lawrence’s room.”

Jehua shrugged, “I frankly don’t give a damn what you ‘care for’ or not.  She’s my friend and my co-worker…  and I didn’t see her pulling away from me, either.”

“Her Dad’s in a fucking coma and her grandfather just died in a fire,” Frank said, “she’d take a hug from pretty much anyone.  But only assholes and creepers would try to put the moves on her when she’s in a vulnerable state like she is right now.  So how about you don’t be a creeper or an asshole, eh buddy?”

“Whatever.  Fuck you,” Jehua said and turned to walk away but turned and walked back toward Frank.  For a moment Frank thought that he was going to try to hit him – which, Frank noted to himself, would have been a mistake but a welcome opportunity to truly drive home his point – but instead he just drew close and spoke slowly and lowly, “and I know what you and Oliver Jordan did to her and her family.  So, maybe you shouldn’t be going around telling people not to be assholes, right…  buddy?”

Kerstin stepped back into her father’s hospital room from the adjoining bathroom.  She felt the tears begin to reform around the edges of her eyes.  Lawrence Waterford lay unmoving on the bed in the opposite corner.  But for the sounds of the various machines to which he was hooked up the room was silent.

Leticia had stepped out of the bathroom before Kerstin had finished her shower but she had at least expected to see Frank in the room when she was through.  She stepped to the door and looked out but there was no sign of the man, or, in fact, anyone at all in the halls.

She turned to her father again and crossed the room and laid her hand on his.  “Daddy,” she said, “I need you.”

She felt guilty that she had moved from Red Terrace, that she hadn’t been part of the family business, that she had spent most of her adolescent years trying to escape the shadow that the Waterford name cast.  She felt guilty because she worried that her father felt that she had been trying to deny him and that she must have hurt him so many times when all she thought she was trying to do was be herself, be an individual.

Frank not back yet?”

Kerstin turned and saw Leticia McKinelle standing in the open doorway.  “No,” she replied, “he was gone when I got out of the shower.”

“He was gone when I came out, too.  Guess he needed to take a walk.”

Kerstin nodded, “probably.”

“So, what’s going on with you and Jehua Stanley?”

“Say what now?” Kerstin said wheeling around to face Leticia.

“You heard me.”

“There is nothing going on between us.”

Leticia nodded slowly, “okay, then what went on between you?  There’s something.  I saw it.  I’m pretty sure Frank saw it.”

Kerstin didn’t reply for a moment.  She didn’t know what to say.

Leticia crossed the room to stand close to her cousin, she placed a hand on her arm, “listen I don’t know what’s going on, what went on, or whatever…  but there’s something and it’s plain as day when you’re together.  So just keep it under control when Frank’s around, okay?”

Frank was still fuming after his confrontation with Jehua Stanley.  He was absenting tapping his clenched fist against the wall as he walked back toward Lawrence Waterford‘s hospital room.

As he passed a nurses’ station a familiar voice caught his attention and he turned.  He saw the nurse talking to a man and she gestured toward the direction of Lawrence Waterford’s room.  The man followed her gesture and looked directly at Frank.

He smiled broadly before thanking the nurse and dashing across the short distance to Frank.

“She was hot.” The man said, “shit, I shoulda got her number.”  He turned and looked back at the nurses’ station.  “Ah, screw it, there’s plenty more where she came from, heh?  So, fancy meeting you here, yeah?” The man said.

“Yeah, fancy that,” Frank replied, “what are you doing here, Nathan.”

“Now, is that any way to greet your favourite brother, Frankie?”

“Yeah, I think it is,” Frank said, “so, what are you doing here?”

“Oh, I happened to be in the area and I thought, fuck, I haven’t seen that brother of mine in almost two years, I should hit him up.”  He grinned broadly, “so I called up Bren and he told me where to find you.  Well, more or less.  It took knocking on a few doors in your building to find out that you’d be here.”

“You were talking to Brendon?”

“Oh yeah, hey, I guess you didn’t know.  He’s out.”

“There he is,” Leticia said as they rounded the corner and spotted Frank walking toward them.  He glanced over his shoulder before looking back at them and shrugging slightly.

“Sorry,” he said, “I got all turned around and ended up clear across the building.”

“It’s okay,” Kerstin said, “we’ve only been looking for a few minutes.”

That wasn’t true at all, but Leticia wasn’t going to correct her cousin.  “Are we ready to get out of this place?”

“Yes,” Frank said immediately, “I mean,” he said after a moment, “if you’re ready, Kerstin.”

“I’m ready to leave,” she said, “but I’m not sure that I’m ready to go back to Red Terrace.”  She took a deep breath.  “I haven’t been back since…  well, you know.”

“We know,” Leticia replied, “but you have Frank and I.  We’ll be there to support you.  It will be okay.”  Leticia said the words but she wasn’t sure, even, how she was going to handle returning to Red Terrace.  A part of her was glad that Kerstin was having such a hard time with the idea.  Perhaps being Kerstin’s support would take her own mind off all the reasons that she’s rather not be there herself.

Jordan Estate“No, absolutely not,” Constance Jordan replied.  “Not after all that has happened to that family.  You are not going through with that plan to take what little they have left from them.”

“No, Mom, you don’t understand…”

“Enough!”  Constance said, “Olivia, I don’t care what your father has told you to make you believe that crushing the Waterfords is something that this family should aspire to, but it’s not going to happen.  Not as long as I have a stake in this family and its business.”

Constance hadn’t been able to believe her own ears when she’d walked past her husband’s open study door and she’d heard the voices from within – voices of her own family – talking about completing Oliver’s plan to pull the rug out from underneath the already crippled Waterford family.  “Haven’t you got anything to say?”  She said accusingly at her husband.

“It’s nothing personal, Constance, it’s just business.”

“I don’t give a good God damn if it’s just business or not,” Constance retorted.  “It’s not good business, it’s not ethical business and it’s certainly not something that you do to a man while he’s in a coma…”

“What better time is there?” Olivia chimed in.

“Excuse me?”  Constance stood, momentarily aghast at her own daughter.  Yes, Olivia had always been more Oliver’s than she had been hers, but nonetheless she hadn’t been prepared for that.  “Listen to me, both of you…” she turned and looked at Harry Custone who had been sitting quietly in the corner of the study nursing his drink, “and you too, because I know it will be you that they send to do their dirty work…  this isn’t going to happen.  Not now, if ever.”  She shook her head, “Oliver I have never understood your all consuming urge to destroy the Waterfords but this time – right now, under these circumstances – I forbid it.”

Oliver was going to speak but she held up her hand, “you know that I don’t make such demands of you very often, but in this I am firm.  You will not make any moves to damage the Waterford family or to interrupt its family business until such time as they are prepared to meet you fairly on your precious field of battle.”

Constance didn’t wait to hear the response before she stepped to the door of the study.  “But for the fortunate choice made by a fireman you could have died in the fire, Oliver, if I might remind you, it could have been you in Kirk or Lawrence Waterford’s place, count your damned blessings and move on,” she said before she stepped out and headed down the hall.

“Daddy?” Olivia said after Constance had left.

“Your mother has spoken, there’s nothing I can do.”

Olivia Jordan’s eyes narrowed, “why not?  All it would take would be to call in their debts.  You can do that so easily.”

“Actually, I can’t. You see, it’s more complicated than that,” Oliver replied, “I bought the Waterford debt with your mother’s money.”

Doctor Bachman was making his rounds at Bayview Hospital when he stepped into the burn unit.

His job that day was to do post-op checks on the patients that had had reconstructive surgery follow the burns they had sustained.  His first two stops were quite routine, small burns that had been sustained in household accidents and had been fully repaired and were healing nicely.  One of them, in fact, was receiving his discharge papers later that day.

The next stop, however, was something different.  Oswald Glendale had been burned quite severely.  Scarred on his face and torso by the fire that had burnt to the ground the pool house at Red Terrace.  There was a certain irony in Glendale’s status because, as a well known plastic surgeon, he would have been Bachman’s own choice to perform the reconstruction if that were possible.

He pulled the clipboard from the tray that hung outside the door to Glendale’s room and stepped inside.  He was looking down at the chart for a long moment before he finally looked up at his patient… who was nowhere to be found.

Glendale’s bed, where the mostly-sedated patient had been laying for the past weeks, was empty.  The few machines that he was hooked up to continued to blip and beep along cheerfully as if he was still there and a quick look showed that they had been tampered with in order to confuse the monitors at the nurses’ station.

Bachman dropped the clipboard and lunged for the bed.  He pressed the emergency call button and rushed out of the room and into the hall.  He grabbed a nurse by the shoulders and exclaimed, “have you seen the man who’s supposed to be in this room?”

The poor nurse, alarmed and confused, could only shake her head.

Oswald Glendale was gone.

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