“I’m a very talented individual,” Patience Crane had told me when we talked, “You get my brother to testify and you won’t have to worry about Wednesday Montague ever again.”
The words kept replaying in my head as we had arrived at her brother’s house. The house was in California, actually closer to where we were staying at the time. It was a relatively ordinary house. The white picket fence, painted walls and everything.
“Why you?” Caprio asked, “Why couldn’t she convince him herself?”
“Obviously she couldn’t and obviously she feels like Tatum can,” Mauricio replied, with a little bite.
“Mauricio, I was just asking a question.”
Mauricio didn’t answer back. He just continued walking to the house. Truth was I did kind of feel the tension in between the two. They kept butting heads. They never used to butt heads like this. It was always Caprio and I arguing with each other and Mauricio was always the mediator.
Jordan was actually the first one to the door. He was brave guy. I realized that about him. All four of us were all so different. I was African, Jordan was white, Mauricio was Spanish and Caprio was just everything under the moon. But we were all brought together for the same cause. Justice.
Someone answered the door.
It was a guy. He was handsome. He had a dark sandy compexion. He looked like a mix between black and Asian. His eyes were very chinky. In his hands was a little girl. She didn’t seem to have any black in her at all. She seemed all asian. Her hair was silky smooth and she held onto his chest. She had to be four. She was so cute. Immediately she reminded me of Doki and why we were doing all of this. We had to get Doki back.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“We were looking for Chauncey Crane,” Jordan stated, looking inside of the house.
“That’s my husband. What do you want with him?”
I had seen it on the news about how gay marriage was legal in California, but I hadn’t actually met a gay married couple. It was different to see this. He was young too and very attractive. It was rare to see a black young guy married anyway, let alone a GAY, ATTRACTIVE black young guy.
“We need his help.”
“He’s not home, I’m sorry,” the half black, half Asian guy stated.
“When will he be back?” I stated, “This is kind of urgent.”
He gave me a suspicious look, “You are that kid aren’t you? From the news. The one that Wednesday is after. You’re Tatum St. Clair.”
“You recognized me…”
“As soon as you were walking down my driveway.”
“Will you call the cops?”
“Not if you leave right now.”
“We aren’t leaving until we speak to Chauncey,” Caprio stated.
The guy sneered a little bit, challenging both Caprio and I in the same look, “Listen I don’t want none of that old bullshit in this house. You guys got stuck in that shit, you get yourselves out by yourself. That’s what we did. Now I won’t call the cops cause I DO feel bad but don’t tempt me and stick around after I close this door.”
He slammed the door in our faces.
I couldn’t believe it.
“Asshole,” Caprio stated.
“He was just scared,” Jordan told Caprio, “He has a family and he seems to know what type of people we are dealing with.”
I turned away. The look in that guys eyes had said it all. There was a past there and it seemed horrible. He knew who I was, but he didn’t call the cops though. He didn’t try to citizen’s arrest me. He just shut the door. That was saying something. I had a ton of money on my head. Why wouldn’t he call the cops and collect?
As I turned to walk away, I noticed a car pull up. It was a regular Ford Escort. A boy walked out. Immediately I knew who it was. He looked just like Patience Crane. He had her strong dark facial features. His hair was jet black just like hers. His eyes were pitch black. He had her intense eyes and that intense stare.
“Chauncey Crane?” I asked walking up to him.
“I have to speak to you.”
“Can this wait? I just got home. Maybe we can make an appointment…”
He looked annoyed. He did seem tired from work. He seemed to have been doing some white collar work or something. He didn’t seem to have a lot of money though. It was obvious he was worn out for the day.
“It’s about Patience.”
His intense stare got even more intense. God. That stare was crazy. It was almost like he was digging into my mind. I could almost fall into them. It seemed like they were limitless. It was kind of scary.
He nodded to me and lead me to the house.
Chauncey’s husband didn’t seem to like the fact that we were in the house at all. They went into a back room and started arguing. Their daughter, obviously adopted, sat in the living room with us. She just sat there looking at us as we sat on the couch. She was curling her hair between her fingers and staring at us.
We could hear Chauncey and his boyfriend yelling at each other from the other room.
“You can’t get involved with this shit again! Send them home!”
“Amir lower your voice!”
“No Chauncey! You said all that was another life! Forget your sister! Forget all that shit! I don’t want to get involved in any of it! You have a family now!”
“Amir…let me just see what they want!”
“Patience sent them here! What the hell do you think they want!”
They kept arguing back and forth just like this from the other room. It was uncomfortable as hell. Mauricio smiled at the little girl and waved his hand at her. She seemed amused by this but didn’t get up.
Then he stretched out his arms.
The girl was so cute. I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit as she got up and started to make her way to give Mauricio a hug.
“Berenice!” Chauncey’s husband Amir called walking out into the room.
She ran over to him.
“What did I tell you about strangers? Come here,” She ran into his arms and hugged him tightly. Immediately he handed her over to Chauncey, “You spoke to Papa when he got home?”
She ran over to Chauncey and gave him the same amount of love that she had given Amir. They were a beautiful family. I looked over at Caprio. I wondered if he was thinking the same thing I was thinking. We’d probably never get the chance to be as happy as they looked. I fully understand why Amir didn’t want the drama. They were so beautiful, they were so happy. Why cause disruption?
Chauncey was holding his daughter close to his heart. Amir seemed to know what he was doing by sending his daughter over to Chauncey because all of a sudden Chauncey seemed to only care about his daughter in his hands. He seemed to almost forget that we were in the room.
Caprio was the one to clear his throat.
“I’m sorry to ruin this touching moment,” he replied, “I just want to get this done with like the rest of you. I mean it is touching though. You guys are cute. Like I really hate myself for disturbing this. Like it’s Disney channel cute.”
I nudged Caprio to shut up. I couldn’t help but laugh. Yeah, the old Caprio was slowly and surely coming back. It was either he was always joking around or when it came to me…he was always serious.
Chauncey put his daughter down, “Berenice go to your room, study your vocabulary words.”
The little girl was obedient too. She turned around and walked away with her chubby little kid feet. Amir looked pissed off. He crossed his arms. As Chauncey came to sit with us, he just stood behind the chair with the same attitude. It was weird how he seemed so EXTRA straight. It was almost like I could tell Chauncey was a little gay, but Amir was…he seemed the type to be anti-gay. But obviously, I was wrong, by the ring on his finger.
“I’m assuming,” he started off, “I’m assuming you are the one that has been victimized by Wednesday Montague. For that, I apologize.”
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“It slightly was,” Chauncey continued, “You see, I know Wednesday was the one who sent my sister to jail. It was obvious when she became more and more powerful. I could have stopped her. I was one of the very few that knew most of her secrets. I knew about the Dollhouse. I was a part of it.”
“Really?” Jordan said all of a sudden getting excited, “Well maybe we don’t need Patience. Is there anything you know that we can use against Wednesday?”
“Nothing that can hold. I don’t think like them anymore. I am a different person now,” Chauncey told us, viewing each of us with his paralyzing stare, “Wednesday and Patience are the same breed. I am sure I know what Patience is doing. She sent you here in return for her assistance with Wednesday. Didn’t she?”
He said he didn’t know how they thought anymore, but he was right on the dot. He had gotten up out of his seat and went to a small bar. He had poured himself a cup full of Hennessy with ice and sipped it slowly.
Mauricio nodded, “She gave us no choice.”
“No, my sister never does,” Chauncey replied.
“I’m not running anymore, Chauncey,” I stated, “She took a child. I’m not going to do it anymore. The kid needs to go back to his mother.”
“I don’t think Wednesday would hurt the child,” Chauncey replied, “But I get it. I get that the child needs to go back. What does my sister want in return?”
“She wants you to testify. In her defense,” Jordan stated.
He looked at us.
He turned to Amir. Amir was red in the face now. He took steps towards us. He looked at us as though we were the dumbest people in the world.
“Do you know what you are saying?” he asked, “You want him to help bring Patience Crane out of jail? Do you know who the hell that is! Do you know what she can do? That woman is the devil.”
He seemed so afraid. Shit. I could see Jordan was hesitating too. This Patience woman did seem very, very shady. I broke a sweat. Truth was that we couldn’t trust her. We couldn’t trust someone who said they were the ORIGINAL Wednesday. How the hell could one?
“If I had stopped Wednesday when I had the chance,” Chauncey told his husband, “She wouldn’t be doing the same thing that Patience is doing now. She’s worst then Patience, Amir.”
“Please! Worse then Patience that’s impossible.”
“Look at her, how can you say she isn’t worse than my sister.”
“You are clouded by the fact that she is your sister, yet again,” Amir replied, “That woman destroys lives. Don’t get it fucked up, Chauncey.”
“Well what the hell do you think Wednesday is doing?” Chauncey argued.
“She damn sure isn’t baking cookies,” Caprio added, almost immediately, getting yet another hard nudge from me.
Chauncey replied and look over at me, “Mr. St. Clair, I’ll do it. I’ll talk to Patience’s lawyer and say what they want me to say. I’ll get her out. I’ll do it. Fight fire with fire. Let them destroy each other.”
“And everyone else in the meanwhile…” Amir added, crossing his arms and continuing his pessimism.
“Thank you, so much,” I told Chauncey.
“It’s fine. This all has to end one way or another,” Chauncey stated, “You guys can spend the night here in the basement if you want. It’d be safer than staying at a hotel since Tatum is so hot right now. We have a couple beds down there.”
We spent the day with Amir and Chauncey. They called themselves the Crane-Washingtons. Chauncey was the more social one. He spent a lot of time talking to Jordan. They took to each other. They spoke in riddles together which was very interesting actually. He talked a lot about Amir and his daughter. They had adopted her when she was just a baby. She was from the Philippines which was what half of Amir was. It reminded me even more of Doki and Maya since they were Filipino as well. Amir spent most of the time to himself. He was obviously a little upset with Chauncey, but as soon as Chauncey reached out for him, he seemed to warm up to him immediately.
I watched as they stayed silently next to the fireplace, cuddled up. They kissed openly, tenderly next to the warmth of the fire. They had seemed so happy in the little life that they made for themselves. I envied it. The way that Chauncey looked at Amir with those longing eyes and the way Amir reacted with his clean, sexy smile was amazing. The chemistry was definitely there.
I turned around and realized Caprio standing there. He handed me a cup of coffee and sat down beside me on the couch.
“What if this is almost over?” he asked me, “This nightmare. How would you feel? What would you want to do first?”
“I want to take pictures probably, pose for the camera again. I never thought I’d miss it, but I do. I miss the high fashion. I miss the runway.”
He smiled, “I remember. You were so handsome up there.”
“Well what do you want?”
I looked around… “What is this?”
“A house like this. A kid like that. I want a life with you. No more running from dangerous people. No more being afraid of your shadow. I want a simple life. But I need to let you know that I never regretted doing this.”
“I used to beat up myself thinking that it was my fault we were out here. I don’t understand how there could be no regret.”
“Hell ain’t so bad if you there with me,” Caprio stated, “We in this together. That is why I was so upset when you ran away. It felt like I couldn’t be a part of you like I always was. I was so upset when Jordan was helping you in a way that I couldn’t. I used to be the one you depended on, but then he was. It felt like you didn’t need me to be a part of your life anymore.”
“I’ll always need you to be a part of my life,” I said, “There are some things you can do that Jordan can’t…”
I grabbed the bulge in Caprio’s pants. He squirmed a little bit but not loud
enough for everyone else to hear.
He smiled flirtatiously guiding my hand back down, “Like what again?”
“Boy you’re crazy.”
“Yeah I am. I do whatever the voices in my pants tell me to do,” he joked and
smiled, leaning into me sexually. He started to suck on my lower lip.
That was when Mauricio made his way across the room. He walked out of the door, slamming it rudely. I hadn’t even noticed he must have been behind us. I turned to see Jordan there shrugging his shoulders as he played with little Berenice in the kitchen. Amir and Chauncey didn’t even notice. They were way too taken by one another to realize Mauricio being upset.
“I should check up on him,” I stated.
He hesitated a little bit but then nodded, “Alright. What if I didn’t want you to? I guess I’m still in the dog house, huh?”
“Yup,” I stated, giving him a smack and walking out of the house onto the porch with Mauricio.
He smiled at me as I walked out of the house and sat with him.
“It’s breezy out here, you should go back in,” he told me as he saw me standing there.
“I’ll be fine.”
I was lying. It was kind of breezy and the midnight breeze was hitting me.
We sat there for a while side by side staring at the stars. He must have read my mind and knew how cold I was because Mauricio walked up behind me and covered himself with my arms. He was so warm.
“I was thinking about what Patience told you. I always wondered how does it feel to be…so damn beautiful?”
“It’s a curse sometimes,” I explained to him, “All the troubles I had in my life was because of the fact that other people found me attractive.”
“You could have never really had been mine right?”
“What do you mean? I was yours.”
“No, I wasn’t enough,” he stated, “I wasn’t worth you. The problem that I keep finding is why is Caprio worth you? People like you marry billionaires. Patience was right. You could seduce anyone in the world…but you want…Caprio?”
This was an awkward conversation.
“I don’t want to seduce people.”
“That’s not the point. What is it that you see in Caprio? It kills me sometimes. I mean, he is handsome. He has a body. But there a million other guys that are handsome and have nice bodies. I’m so pissed off that you have been the victim all these years. You could be the predator.”
“Are you saying that I should be like Patience.”
“No…Tatum, I’m not saying that at all. All I’m saying is that it’s about time you did for yourself. You can’t do that with someone like Caprio. He’ll just limit you. Don’t you want to be happy for once.”
“I am happy with him.”
“Is that enough? And I’m saying this trying to be as unselfish as I want. Because I am a victim of falling in love with you too. I want you for myself, but I want you to fulfill your potential more than anything.”
“Caprio IS my potential!”
“Tatum…I’m just trying to help.”
“I’m fine, Mauricio. Please….believe me. With him is where I want to be. I used to wonder why it was that I didn’t argue like that, with anyone but him. He’s just like oil, Mauricio. And I’m so sorry you got hurt in the process of me figuring this out. He is that thick love. Just like oil on my hands. He drenches me with it. I can’t breathe and if that’s what breathing means, being away from him, then I don’t want to breathe.”
“You’re making a mistake, Tatum,” Mauricio replied, “You can have so much, so much better.”
“Fine…I’ll live with it.”
I walked away slamming the door behind me and walking into the apartment. Tears filled my eyes as I entered the house. They weren’t sad tears. They were just tears because I knew what Caprio’s love felt like and it was so hard to explain it in words.
All I could think about was…oil.
I realized that someone was in the room and the door hadn’t been all the way closed. It was Amir. He was standing there in the living room.
“Don’t let anyone take your love away,” he told me.
He walked towards the kitchen. I followed close behind. It was such a weird thing to say, but he has obviously heard what Mauricio and I were talking about. I was interested in listening to Amir.
“What do you mean?” I asked him.
“Just what I said. Don’t let anyone take your love away,” he stated, “It happened to me and Chauncey. I loved him, more than anything I’ve ever known and it was pure. And when people are in love and when they are human, they make mistakes. Mistakes are common, they happen all the time. Pure love doesn’t happen all the time. It’s rare. So why is that people are willing to trade something rare for something so common?”
“Did the issues deal with Patience?”
“Of course,” he stated, “I met Chauncey when I wasn’t supposed to. The prince
and the pauper. He was set up for success and I was set for failure. We met, fell in love and Patience couldn’t have it.”
“He was one of her dolls.”
“Yeah, just like Wednesday Montague and her brothers Vince and Ethan. Just like Mia LaPerla. Him and I were the reason everything started to fall apart for her. Patience had the perfect equation for success and they were nothing more than her variables. She forgot to add in one thing though.”
“What was that?”
“Patience forgot to add in love. Or multiply it. Or subtract it. Or do all of them together. Love is the biggest variable of all.”
We returned to California. I had a long talk with Amir. I could see he really didn’t hate me and I understood that he didn’t take it personal the fact that we were letting Patience out.
Just as expected, Patience’s appeal had come up but the defense had a surprise witness that the jury had no idea about. That witness was her brother Chauncey Crane. Chauncey was the one who knew Patience the most.
Out of everyone his story of her would be the most believable. And they did believe it.
Patience Crane won her appeal.
What had we done?