Sentinel Mountain

Chapter Fifty-six
Brazilian Breakfast and Bororo Tea

While the bedroom windows in the apartment did not face east, the outside wall was mostly glass and the morning light was very bright. Josh enjoyed waking up to a bright room and especially when Alex was in bed beside him. That was one thing both loved about their room in Vic House. Josh awoke before Alex and had gone to the bathroom, taken care of his bladder and scrubbed out the mess left in his mouth by the dragon that spent the night there before Alex stirred. He put on coffee and when it finished, put two cups and the coffee carafe on a tray and took them back to bed. When he reached the bedroom, Alex was in the bathroom and when he returned, immediately started making out with Josh. The coffee was forgotten for the next hour as the two made love, then showered together, changed the bed, again—the third time since they arrived—and decided they'd rather have coffee at the table overlooking the bay.

Josh was thinking about just having a buttered English muffin and jam for breakfast until he realized even as well as Alex was doing, he still needed good and substantial food. He was just going to suggest they find a place to eat out when Cândido called and invited them to breakfast. Josh quickly accepted. Cândido served a couple of different kinds of fish along with cheese and fresh fruit and a very different French toast, all delicious. "Kinda what we would eat in Brazil," he said. They had Brazilian coffee during and after the meal and Alex said he thought he was fully wound for the day. "Mormons do not drink coffee and I am still getting used to having it, but I do love it and this with all the hot milk is really good."

As they were finishing their coffee, Josh's phone rang. "Josh, June VanWinkle. Glad I reached you. I suspect you had a day of sightseeing and packing lined up, but James Davis just called and wanted to get together with you. Mrs. Blankenship had a major stroke last night and is brain dead. Fortunately she had an advance health directive so there's no question about what will happen. James says we should be prepared for any moves Kelly makes. Life support will be turned off twenty-four hours after she was pronounced brain dead; that will be at seven this evening. Anyway, can you be at his office at nine thirty? He asked about me, but I have something else I can't turn loose."

"Sure, no problem."

When Josh told the other three what was going on, he said, "Luc, I guess that's a heads up for you because I suspect Blankenship LLLP will be involved sooner or later."

"I'll tip the company lawyers when I get to the office."

"Alex, I hate to abandon you, but I guess this is important. Maybe you'd like to join a tour and see the city."

"Better yet," Cândido said, "I don't have anything today except to put the finishing touches on a lecture series I'm doing in a couple weeks, but there's no rush on that. Why don't Alex and I see the city?"

"Sounds like a real winner to me," Luc said. "Cândido is an excellent guide and really knows the city better than most natives. Josh can give you a call when he's finished."

"Sounds good. Babe, be sure you have your phone and wallet." Realizing what that sounded like, Josh added, "Not really babying him too much since he's not had either until recently and often forgets them."

After thanking Cândido for breakfast, Josh and Alex went to their apartment where Josh changed into business attire. "You look like the head of a corporation, Beloved, but I like you better plain, plain beautiful," Alex said.

"I just hope this doesn't get complicated, and it will if Kelly gets a toehold. I don't know when I so misjudged a person. I guess the Old Man was right when he said doesn't matter how smart we are, the little head can overrule the big one. I also know he was doing some major shit. I don't know all the drugs he abused, but it was enough that he will eventually die as a result, one way or another, unless he makes a drastic change. Well, have a good time with Cândido. He's a wonderful fellow."

"Both he and Luc are great," Alex agreed.

"Do remember not to get too tired. I'll get back as soon as I can."

"Josh, weren't the movers to come today to pack stuff?"

"Damn! I forgot. Call them and reschedule for tomorrow, better yet, see if they will be put on call. Don't worry about the cost, which will be high, but we need that flexibility with all that's going on. If I can't be here, we'll go through tonight and decide what to take. By the way, if Shawn's classmate calls about the apartment, have him call for an appointment. I don't know what's going on with Mrs. Blankenship's death and Kelly's stunts."

In the car, Josh set the GPS for James Davis's office and wasn't surprised when it was in the high rent district. When he told the building guard who he was, he checked his list and said, "Mr. Taylor, take the elevator to the top floor." The elevator opened to a very elegant foyer. A young man sat behind a French Empire desk in a matching chair. Josh was sure Napoleon might well have used both.

"Josh Taylor for Mr. James Davis."

The young man stood and it was clear he spent time in the gym and tanning bed. There's an obvious difference between a body that comes from hard work and one which comes from sweating in the gym, and a tanning bed tan always betrays its origins. His immaculate attire didn't come off the rack somewhere either. Either he had an outside source of income or Blankenship would have to triple Prue and Elizabeth's salary to keep up. "I'm Andrew, Mr. Taylor. Mr. Davis is expecting you. If you'll follow me," he said as he pushed a button on his desk and a panel slid open behind him. He motioned Josh through the door and they walked into another large reception area with several doors opening off it. He opened one and again motioned Josh inside. "Lucia, Richard, Mr. Taylor for Mr. Davis." Lucia and Richard might have worked for the same agency as Andrew.

Lucia was a stunningly beautiful, statuesque African-American woman. Richard was not young, maybe mid-fifties to sixties, but definitely TV model material, the 'I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV' kind of model. Lucia said, "Richard, Mr. Taylor."and left.

"Mr. Taylor, Mr. Davis was very pleased you could come in. He is waiting for you," Richard said as he came from behind his desk. "This way." He opened the door to James Davis's office and said, "Mr. Davis, Mr. Taylor."

"Come in Mr. Taylor, have a seat. I really appreciate your coming over, something to drink?"

"Just water. Does your firm raid model agencies for your people? So far I have met an Abercrombie & Fitch, a TV doctor type, and a woman who would not be out of place on a magazine cover."

"The firm, as I suppose all firms do, has a history. Mr. Augustus Adams started on his own as a young lawyer. His first case involved a model, Sylvia Yelton, who was sent into a situation the agency knew was not all that savory. As a result, she was posed in some S&M situations against her will and was finally raped before she escaped. The agency claimed she had gone off on her own and they had no responsibility for what happened. Mr. Adams proved otherwise and won a pile of money for her—and himself, of course. After that news spread, he found himself representing an increasing number of models.

"He, by the way, ended up married to Sylvia and she is the mother of Augustus Adams the second and grandmother to the third Adams in the firm's name—Silvana Adams professionally, and Silvana Adams Davis at home. I married her. She handles most of the models these days.

"Anyway, Sylvia and Augustus remained concerned about models and decided that those who had looks and brains should have experience which would serve them when their modeling days were over. The scheduling is a nightmare better left to Silvana and her staff, but the beautiful people you see around here are actually working models—when they have a job. Most do TV and magazine work, none are, obviously, the emaciated runway models. Richard has been my sectretary since I joined the firm. Lucia is my paralegal, but working on her law degree."


"Well, to less pleasant things. I really, really appreciate your coming over, especially after last night. I got a call from Dr. Hinkley at the facility where Mrs. Blankenship is living, well, technically living because of life support. She had a severe stroke about noon yesterday and then another massive one about six last night. She was declared brain dead at seven. Fortunately, she had an advance health directive made after her first minor stroke. In case she was declared brain dead, life support is to be ceased twenty-four hours later and her organs donated. That will be carried out. Kelly went into all sorts of carrying on, but the grin on his face behind all his crocodile tears and lamentations was not perfectly hidden. As you know, the Old Man was pretty upset over what Kelly pulled in Hawaii. Kelly will be mightily surprised when Mrs. Blankenship's will is read, immediately after her funeral. Without breaking any confidence, I suggest you be present. Don't worry about it being a private affair. I'll take care of making sure you have a right to be there.

"What I really wanted to see you about before the latest development, was some hanky panky concerning Mrs. Blankenship's money. Kelly got a signature card to her account and has withdrawn her walking around money provided by Blankenship each month. He has provided her personal needs beyond what the facility provides—maybe fifty dollars a month outside. What happens to the remaining money? I don't know and haven't been able to find out.

"I also found out he filed claim to the one hundred thousand that is still tied up in your account. To do that, I guess he doesn't realize, he's going to have to come up with a reason he gave that to you, especially since he claimed you were paid that for company secrets. He talked the facility into moving his mother into a less expensive set up and depositing the difference in her account and has taken that too. I think there may be a lawsuit there since Blankenship agreed to pay for her keep in that facility. If she got a reduced rate that should be reflected in what Blankenship pays. It has not been.

"Finally, there's the suit he has filed claiming you stole the company. If he could prove that he has a chance of taking it over again. I'm going after Kelly about the money. Maybe there was nothing illegal about his taking her spending money since, I guess, she was free to give it all to him if she wished, but she didn't give it to him, he took it from her account. Fine legal point there. I want to bust his chops for his suit against you because that had a direct effect on my client. I think, when you stopped paying Kelly, you should have done the same thing with her."

"Had I known it wouldn't have hurt her, I would have. I'll get the Blankenship lawyers right on the reduction in the cost question. I agree, it seems that if there was a reduction it should have come to Blankenship. Our agreement was to pay the facility for her keep. It had nothing to do with Kelly. Because she was the Old Man's wife, I thought Blankenship should provide the very best the facility had to offer and that's what we wanted and what we paid for.

"Good point. Someone or ones in the facility should be held responsible for that and if I don't miss my guess, will roll on Kelly. "

"I'll have Mr. VanWinkle look into the question of the one hundred thousand. If Kelly claims it, he will be admitting guilt in attempting to frame me."

"More than that, it can be seen as an attempt to do damage to Blankenship. Expect some of this to take ages to play out in court. I wonder where he's getting the money for his lawyer? Of course, the lawyer he has on retainer is a sleazebag if there ever was one, and is no doubt taking this on for a major cut of any settlement. I'd like to nail him as well. Also, let me know what you find out on Boles, he's another shady character."

"Mr. Davis…"

"James, please, since we're on the same side this time."

"James, Bull Marino is investigating both the lawyer and Boles, but I have had no report yet. I want this over and out of my hair. I have endured enough from Kelly and I have a paradise and a beautiful man waiting for me."

"I'd like to put Kelly away for a very long time…" His intercom buzzed. "Excuse me. Yes, Richard? … Thank you, Richard." He turned back to Josh. "More good news. Kelly has just been released to attend to his mother's funeral and will remain out while he waits for his latest appeal to be heard. Let me make a call or two and see if I can find out something."

Fifteen minutes later, he hung up the phone again and said, "You can thank the good State Representative Boles for Kelly's release. He pulled some strings and Kelly has been released on his own recognizance. Only real restriction is he can't leave the state and has to wear an ankle bracelet. Nothing we can do about that."

"Do you, by the way, know when Mrs. Blankenship's funeral will be?" Josh asked. "I haven't heard anything, of course, and I expect to be there out of respect for the Old Man."

"I don't think it has been announced."

"Keep in touch," Josh said, standing to go.

"You too."

He was on his way to the apartment when his phone rang. He let it go to voice mail until he could pull over and see who was calling. It was Mr. VanWinkle. When he called back, Mr. VanWinkle said, "Josh, I just got a call from Kelly's shyster. Damn fool wanted to meet concerning the one hundred thousand dollars of his client's money being held in escrow by the government, money Kelly had deposited in your account. I asked him to come to the office to discuss the transfer and to bring Kelly with him to sign for it. Barlow, the lawyer, replied Kelly was unavailable since he was handling arrangements for his mother's funeral. I didn't know she was dead."

"I guess technically she's not until seven this evening. She was declared brain dead at seven last night and the machines will be unplugged at seven tonight."

"Barlow said there would be a private interment of her ashes Saturday and no memorial service as those were Kelly's wishes. Anyway, I said we would postpone any meeting about the one hundred thousand until afterward since I insisted Kelly had to be present. He just called back and said Kelly wanted the matter wrapped up as soon as possible and he didn't want to wait until after the interment. Barlow said he had power of attorney, but I told him Kelly had to be present or it was no go. Fool-like, the two have agreed to be in my office at eleven thirty. Everything is set up to video all that goes on. I think I can get a confession from Kelly and if so, he can kiss the money goodbye. The government will likely take it as unclaimed, so you'll not benefit from it except to see Kelly slip and fall in his own shit."

"Kelly still owes that to someone or I'm mistaken. No one has been able to find any indication it came from Blankenship when he was running it. Maybe Mama's spending money was paying that back. If so, he had a long way to go before he was out from under that debt."

"And now she's dead."

"By the way, I got together with James Davis. He's going after Kelly for his handling of Mrs. Blankenship's money. As soon as I get to the office, I'm talking to Blankenship's lawyers. Kelly got his mother into a less expensive apartment—actually she was moved from an apartment to a single room—and cut out other benefits and took the difference. Since the agreement was Blankenship would pay for her keep, any reduction in costs should have been reflected in what Blankenship paid and not gone into Kelly's pocket, right?"

"Right. How's Alex?"

"Doing great. He's out with Cândido today exploring the city. If I know Cândido, they are at Golden Gate Park by now."

"Good. Keep me up to date."

Alex and Cândido were, in fact, in Golden Gate Park. They had spent two hours exploring the city before Candido suggested they head for the park. When they first arrived, Cândido parked near the Conservatory and he and Alex went inside. Alex was enthralled. "Enjoy," Cândido said. "If you'll excuse me, I need to speak to my friend the curator. Just enjoy this wonderful place."

Twenty minutes later, Cândido rejoined Alex and proved an excellent guide to the plants in the Conservatory. "Why do you know so much about plants? Alex asked.

"The lives of the Bororo depend on many plants. We use them for all sorts of things. In fact, many of the modern medicines are refined products of plants we have been using for centuries. No doubt you have been given a medicine which began life in the Amazon rainforest."

"No one commented on it, but I notice people on the Mountain place great stock in the power of some plants."

"Yes, Janie and I spoke about some of that. When I go back I am going to try to contact a Cherokee shaman. I thought Janie would help me, but she says Christians don't have anything to do with medicine men and Indian superstition. Pity. Their loss. Well, interested in the art museum? Just walking? This is a place where you can spend hours. I would show you the Japanese Garden, but it is always covered up with tourists. You can tell tourists because they leave their manners at home," Cândido laughed. "I did pack a lunch and have reserved us a place where we are due in a couple hours. We'll have to walk to it as no vehicles are allowed, but it is private and quiet."

"Then let's visit the art museum. That way I can sit down if I tire. I don't think I will, but while I'd never let Josh know it, I still do not have the stamina I should and will."

"Alex, my brother, Josh should know that. You not only suffer needlessly when you push yourself beyond what is reasonable and healthy, but also it shows a lack of trust in your husband. Don't do that."

Alex fell silent, thinking.

They spent over an hour in the museum and actually viewed only a very, very small number of paintings as both men often found one particularly striking and sat contemplating it. They left when Cândido asked Alex if he was ready for lunch. "Actually, you need to be as our reservation for a picnic slot is in half an hour and we can take a leisurely stroll to reach it. We have it for two hours.

Cândido led them to a spot on a lake which, incidentally, was the one where Mr. VanWinkle and Josh had lunch as Josh was learning about his inheritance and great-uncle. Cândido had a picnic basket which he gave to Alex to carry and he carried a backpack and a reusable bag such as one used for groceries. When they reached the picnic area, he instructed Alex to lay out the table while he set up a small folding Sterno stove and put water on to boil. The table was set and Alex had poured cups of water from water bottles which still had ice from being frozen. Cândido took the food from the basket, some familiar and some new to Alex. All was delicious. When they finished eating. Cândido said, "Alex, I'd like to help you in your journey to vigorous health."

"Cândido, I don't know what you did before, but you certainly helped me along. Josh and the doctors were amazed at the progress I had made practically overnight."

"Science and modern medicine are wonderful and have accomplished what even our fathers would have considered miraculous, but they have a large blind spot when it comes to ancient medicine and practices. Some, of course, did more harm than good, but I suspect the same is true of modern medicine. Had the doctors placed maggots in Sam's wound, he may have escaped death and the world would have been changed. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"

"That is something to think about."

"Look's like the water for our tea is ready." Cândido carefully measured a greenish powder into two cups and poured boiling water over it. "I'll give you some tea and suggest you have it after breakfast until you use it all. Put a teaspoonful in a cup and pour boiling water over it. As soon as it is cool enough to drink, sip it as you would tea."

They talked about Cândido's lecturing and Alex's plans for the future—which were pretty much up in the air at the moment. "Originally I hoped I could go to medical school, but when I became a prisoner of New Beginnings, I gave up that dream. Now I could go, but that would mean leaving the Mountain and Josh for four to six years. Cândido, I don't want us to feel we are joined at the hip and grow resentful of each other, but I certainly don't want to be separated for years. We have already experienced that."

"You do have a degree, correct?"


"In what?

"Major in biology and a minor in computer science."

"I'm sure you could teach at the charter school which Josh will eventually get—he's got some powerful friends working for him. I met some quite by accident while I was lecturing at Duke. Work on your masters and doctorate and teach on the university level at Mountain State or even one of the community colleges to get you away from the Mountain some. Work with Louise and Jake cataloging the plants and animals of the area. You have a gifted photographer, I understand, in Nelson who, I suspect will be around for a long time. The two of you could do a book of plants and animals of the area. Who knows? You may have a poet who could work with the two of you to do an illustrated book of facts and poetry. Use your talent, knowledge and creativity and that of those around you. I'm sure you and Josh will find much to enjoy together and much to enjoy in the other, but you are also two very strong—in spirit as well as body—young men who will find much to enjoy that does not involve the other directly."

"Thanks, Cândido, that's something I really needed to hear."

"Ah, the tea's ready."

Alex expected some foul tasting brew… it was medicine, right? He was pleasantly surprised by the taste. It was extremely difficult to describe, especially when he couldn't think of a thing to compare it to. "This is wonderful. I've never tasted anything like it."

"I'm not surprised. Some of the ingredients are things you can't hop down to the local corner store and pick up. In fact, the only source of one of them I know about in the US is the Conservatory here. I picked up some this morning. The curator is gracious enough to save leaves for me when he grooms the plant. It'll have to be smoked and aged before it is usable, but I brought a supply of herbs with me when I came. Customs gave me a fit, even though I had permits from both Brazil and the US. I have plenty to take care of you until I think you no longer need it… well, until you reach the point where you just enjoy it a few times a year with special people. Would do Kelly good, but he'd not like it. You have coke or a narcotic in your system and it makes you violently ill. But I guess we need to get you back for a rest."

"Not a bad idea," Alex agreed and they packed up and walked back to the car. They were soon back at the apartment and he stripped and climbed in the bed. He felt wonderful.


Editors: Jesse and Scott.

As always, I own the copyright, so no use beyond personal copy, without permission. If you are too young or whatever to read literature which may describe explicit sex, don't or take any consequences.

All persons and places are fictional and any similarity to persons or places living or dead is coincidental. Again, it's fiction, folks.

~ Sequoyah