I need to share this with someone, and you're it.
But you're lucky, you'll be in on the finish, I won't. Maybe you'll let me know how it ends?
It's a story, about two men. Two very different men, and I figure in it a bit, too. These two men met under very odd circumstances, circumstances that don't really matter for the relaying of this story, but suffice it to say, if they'd met under any other scenario? I wouldn't be talking to you right now. But maybe I'm wrong about that.
Maybe these two were meant for each other from the get-go, destined, whatever. It's a nice thought, a wonderful concept, but how valid? And do I believe in that kind of mumbo jumbo? I'd like to, I really would, and these two men, James Joseph Ellison and Blair Jacob Sandburg could certainly change my mind.
Jim is my friend, my best friend. I trust him as no other and I can't explain it any better than that. But I can tell you, it wasn't always this way. Eight years ago, he was a silent, withdrawn, sad man. He was a loner, a predator, but a good man, a very good man. Not a friend, but a good cop and someone I'd trust my life to.
He's had a tough road to hoe, more than you'll ever know, but he's come through, every time. Every damn time. But pieces of him have been lost in the travel of that road, pieces that are necessary to live, to love, to *be*. I used to despair for him, but there was nothing I could do, he wasn't a close friend.
Then, three years ago, he met a young man, Blair Sandburg. I'm sitting here, shaking my head as I write his name, as I see him in my mind. Blair Sandburg. A crazier guy I could never have pictured. Long hair, earrings, *jewelry*, and ideas? God, what ideas. And can this guy talk, or what? The first time I laid eyes on him, I nearly laughed myself silly. And the thought that Jim would work with this college know-it-all, this new age hippie, flowerchild? No way, Jose. But work together they did. And change they did.
Two men. The front of the book, the back of the book. Take a long line, put Jim at one end and Blair at the other, and there you have it. But here's the clue I missed for three years. The front and back of the *same* book. The ends of the *same* line. They aren't on different lines, or in different books. I just took a coin out of my pocket and I'm looking at it now. Front and back, same coin. Jim and Blair. Blair and Jim. And now? Jim is my best friend. He - mellowed, he reached out, he risked, he put himself out there. Why? Because he knew, somehow, that he had someone to catch him? Maybe. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that's it.
Jim let Blair move in with him. For one week. Blair's still there. *Still* ~ there. Explain that one, if you can. Jim, who barely handled a wife sharing his space, let alone a non-stop talker, mover like Sandburg. I mean this guy is weird. He tries to foist freakish medicines on Jim, and even tried music once, to unclog Jim's sinus passages, I mean, sorry, but that one is so weird, I'm thinking Ripley's Believe It or Not, okay? Come to think of it, Blair Sandburg *belongs* in Ripley's. Front and center. Primary exhibit.
Confession time. I love the kid. Dearly. And you tell anyone, and I'll kill. Trust me, I would.
Blair Sandburg is deep. So deep, it would take years and years to dig far enough to get to the core of the man. Jim, on the other hand, is layered, and Blair peels back those layers like so much wrapping paper, and he's helped me to do some peeling and to see the incredibly complex and wonderful man that Jim Ellison is, but Blair? It would be a lifes work to dig deep enough. But for somebody, it would be worth it. A prize worth the effort. I've done some digging, but only recently. He had me fooled, you see. I thought, what I saw, was what was there. Not hardly.
I used to worry about him, about finding someone to do that digging. I don't anymore. Which brings us to the crux of this *episode* so to speak, of the story of two men.
You see, I believe that James Joseph Ellison loves Blair Jacob Sandburg - *that* way. I believe that Blair Jacob Sandburg loves James Joseph Ellison, the same way. But so far, nobody's talking. Or doing. Especially not the doing. I believe that Jim could be the *digger* of Blair' core. I already know that Blair's got just about every Jimlayer peeled, that Blair would die for Jim. He has. He's changed his whole life. And some people, like Inspector Megan Connor believe it's because Blair loves Jim. Uh, huh. The life he's led, is a life he loves. We hooked him. But it took Jim to help Blair make the jump to being a cop.
He might never have thought of it himself, had enough confidence himself.
So, where does that bring us? To the latest series of brutal murders. And the straw that broke the camel's back. The straw that broke Jim's back.
He and Blair worked hard to solve this one, twenty hours a day for several days. As Cascade panicked. Six women. Two men. Dead, horribly dead. No rhyme or reason, nothing in common. The pressure I received from the Commissioner, the Mayor, God, even the Governor, was enough to make me seriously consider early retirement. Jim and Blair were walking around like zombies, but not giving up, holding on with everything they had.
The last crime scene. Blood everywhere, and I mean *everywhere*. Walls, furniture, floors, pictures, knic-knacks, appliances. And the body, what was left of it.........
The smell almost doubled Jim Ellison over, as it invaded his body. This was the most vile murder scene he could remember ever having investigated. Certainly the worse of the now eight. The murderer was getting increasingly violent, his butchery an evil entity unto itself.
Blair's hand on his back helped. As usual. Brought him back from a near zone, as usual. What had Simon said the other day? Something about Jim not having a zone in months? Didn't he know how many *near* zones he'd experienced? That it was always a hand? On his arm or back, or just the body next to his? No zones.
His thoughts were abstract and that was not good for a detective. He needed to concentrate. Shit, what was this doing to Sandburg? If he, a seasoned veteran was having difficulty, how was Blair handling this?
He looked down at his partner and was surprised to see his eyes wide, his head going up and down, as he took in the horrible sight surrounding them.
"Chief? You got something?"
"I think I do. I've got...to look something up, when we get back. But this," he indicated *this* with a sweep of his hand, "is different. The same, but different. It.....strikes something in my mind, I just can't....pin it down. But I will."
The detectives finished their investigation of the scene, looking for clues they wouldn't find, as the medical team did their job. Eventually, all had been done, and the two detectives left, headed back to the station so that Blair could do his *looking*.
"Jim, I've got it."
Ellison got up and walked to his partner's desk, to stand behind him, looking over his shoulder, at the computer screen, and Blair's finger, pointing.
"See? It *is* a ritual. Little known ancient Egyptian. And the pattern was based on the stars. It was a ritual to protect a priest when going into the afterlife, before his time."
"Okay, but how does that help us catch this bastard?"
"He's using the stars. To find his victims. We chart them, overlay a city map, with co-ordinates and we should be able to find where he's going to strike next. We already know his timetable."
"Do it. How long will it take you? You said yourself we already have his timetable, and it says we have just hours."
"I need to create the program, then....look, I'll make it happen. Now go away, let me work."
Blair's fingers flew over the keyboard, head bent in concentration, eyes burning with the strain, but he was close, so close.
He clicked, and his screen lit up with the map of Cascade, he held his breath, and clicked again.
"YES!", he yelled. To no one. It had worked. The city was there and over it, the constellations.
The door to Simon's office opened and Jim and Simon rushed out. It was after 11pm, the squad room virtually empty.
"You got it, Sandburg?", Simon quizzed.
"Yep. Just give me a minute, while I factor in the previous murders, rule their locations out....THERE! Look, the next victim."
Simon and Jim converged on Blair, all three men peering at the screen.
"Blair, that's a two mile radius. How do we....".
"I know, but look, only one apartment building. It's a business zone. *One* apartment building. That's it."
Jim looked at his watch and groaned. "And we have run out of time. Come on, let's go. Simon, can you get some units over there?"
"It's practically a reality. And I'm rolling with you."
Cars arrived, men were deployed, discreetly, in alleys, in cars, on each floor of the apartment building.
Jim, Simon and Blair started up the stairs, to each floor, Jim using his senses to canvass the building. They reached the second floor when Jim stopped dead.
His head lifted, tilted. His eyes closed.
Then he ran. Up and up. Up two flights. Fourth floor. Simon and Blair hot on his heels.
When they came up, through the stairwell, Jim was standing on the side of one apartment door, his finger to his lips, motioning each man over and into position. Simon took his place on the left of the door and Blair behind Jim, guns drawn.
The corridor they stood in was long and straight, four apartments on each side. At the opposite end from where the three men prepared to enter one of the apartments, was an open window. A shadow crossed in front of it, and waited. Watching.
Jim gave the sign, stepped in front of the door and kicked it in.
Jim and Simon rushed in, Blair just behind, but still in the doorway.
They were minutes too late. The young girl lay in the middle of the floor, a bloody mess. The only saving grace was that the butchery had been halted. Jim stared down at the teenager, at the one arm, flung out in agony, the long hair, blood soaked, at the face, eyes closed, lips parted, at the blood, now pooling around her, and he started to go down on his knees, but a sharp command from Simon brought him back up, aware again of where he was, that the killer was still here, had to be here.
Simon moved into the room, tense, wary, gun ready. Jim took the other side, toward the bedroom, motioning Blair to hold down the front door. Blair tried to make a responding motion, but Jim was already moving away.
The shadow at the open window saw the young man standing at the door, and moved silently in, needing to finish......
Jim moved quickly into the bedroom and found nothing. He shook himself and heard Blair's quiet words, coming to him from the livingroom.
"Jim, just listen. Concentrate. For the out of place sound, or heartbeat. You don't need to search. Come on, man."
Shit. Where was his brain? He concentrated and heard Simon and Blair, then heard a very faint heartbeat.....the victim, still alive.
At the same time that he rushed out of the bedroom, the killer came up close to Blair.
Jim entered the livingroom, and was hit with still another heartbeat. At the same time, Blair *felt* someone behind him, dropped down and whirled around, gun ready.
Jim saw the killer, the knife upraised and fired.
The killer died instantly.
Simon ran out of the kitchen to see Sandburg just getting up and approaching the dead man, kicking the knife away from lifeless fingers and Jim, kneeling in the blood, pulling the girl into his arms and her eyes, opening, seeing Jim's face, and Simon pulled out his cellphone and began barking orders and telling them to get an ambulance - quick.
Blair moved in to stand a few feet away, and watched as a bloody hand came up and brushed against Jim's cheek, then the green eyes closed, for good.
It was over. The young girl, fifteen, died in Jim's arms. We'd caught the killer, but had been unable to save the final victim.
This happens to doctors, policemen, firemen. We lose some. It hurts. But this was different for Jim, because it was the last in a long list of what he undoubtedly felt were failures.
So many lost for Jim. His men in Peru. Danny Jack, Danny, Incacha, Lila, Veronica, Alan. And now, a final victim.
I watched him as they took the girl's body, as they zipped up the bag, saw his flinch. And I watched Sandburg, watching Jim. I witnessed the love, deep and hurting. And I saw the arm, pulling on Jim's sleeve, as Sandburg looked to me for permission, and I understood, understood Blair's need to get Jim home. I nodded and Blair pulled Jim out of there.
What happened then, is a mystery to me, but not to you......don't forget to let me know.
Sandburg managed to get Jim into the truck, then he hopped around to the other side, climbed in, dug out the keys from Jim's pocket and started for the loft.
He turned on the radio, hoping something would come on, something that would help Jim, until he could get him home.
Music from a piano filled the cab of the truck, then Sarah McLachlan's voice followed. It was too poignant, so Blair reached for the knob, to change it, but Jim said, "No, let it play", so he did, but he speeded up a bit.
Jim stared out the window, watched listlessly as his city sped by, and he tried to exorcise the demon of the girl's death, tried to cut out the smell of her blood, of his failure, and the words of the song infiltrated his brain, words like "second chance" and it was hard at the end of the day, and yes, he needed a distraction, but there was no angel in his life, no angel to comfort him in the wreakage of *his* reverie.
The words swirled about him, and he felt lost. He needed those arms. Needed them desperately, and they were not accessible to him.
Blair parked, shut down, climbed out, moved around to the passenger door, opened it and waited for Jim to get out, then he followed him silently inside, upstairs, and into their home.
He helped Jim out of his jacket, eased him over to the couch, settled him down, went back to the kitchen, started to grab a beer for Jim, but at the last minute, changed his mind, and started the coffeemaker instead. When the hot brew was ready, he took a mug, poured some whiskey into it, and then added the coffee.
"Here. Drink this. You need it."
Jim didn't look up, just took the offering. He brought it to his lips and sipped. The whiskey/hot coffee burned, but warmed him.
He couldn't seem to unwind, to *stop* seeing the girl, or the killer, or a wet body, blue and white in death, and he began to shiver, as he felt harsh carpet under him, or as the carpet changed to cold grass.......
Blair stood, uncertain. Words were not the way, not this time. He walked over to the stereo and turned on the radio, low, then back to Jim.
He gazed down at his friend, at his life, at the man he loved, and decided to give this man what he would give him if they were lovers.
He sat down, next to him, close. He reached over and took the mug out of cold hands and set it down on the table, and then he pulled Jim into his arms, and Jim came, unresistant.
He wrapped him in his love, held tight, held off the demons, rocking, soothing.
They stayed like that for an eternity, Jim letting the strong arms of Blair Sandburg begin the exorcising, letting the warmth of the man chase the vultures and thieves away.
Jim shifted and Blair held him away, looking deep into such pale blue eyes, seeing the pain and the hope and the unspoken words, and he nodded, as they spoke without words, and he got up and pulled Jim with him and together, as one, they moved up the stairs, to Jim's bedroom.
Jim sat down on the edge of his bed, tired beyond measure, feeling closer to seventy than forty ~ until Blair's hands touched him. Strong, sure hands, mobile hands, expressive, healing hands. Hands that, oh, so gently, unbuttoned his shirt, got it off him, hands that unashamedly pulled at his slacks, his boxers, his shoes, his socks. Hands that pushed him down onto his back, hands that massaged, that heated cold flesh. Hands that were alive.
Oddly enough, the radio was playing that same song again, but this time, there was no sadness, because he was finding comfort in the arms of his angel. The only angel possible.
Blair's hands were soon joined by his lips, as he looked down at Jim and saw the love staring back at him. He kissed each eyebrow, then each lid. He moved to Jim's right temple and caressed it with his tongue, then to his left temple and did the same, then he straddled Jim Ellison, raised himself up and took off his shirt, dropping it behind him. Then he bent forward again, watching as Jim's eyes followed every move, as Jim's eyes closed when Blair brought his mouth to Jim's cheek, down to his jaw, across to the other side and up. Blair hands closed over each side of Jim's head, and he kissed Jim, a slow, deep kiss, not letting Jim do anything, but accepting, as Blair loved his mouth.
Pain was replaced with love. Pure love. Complete love. An angel made love to his body, his mind, his soul. The angel's name was Blair Sandburg. And Blair Sandburg was once more alive. The vision of the fountain forever gone. Jim felt heat seep back in, as cold was pushed out, and he knew rest, as Blair's body told him that the girl had not died alone, that Blair had not died at all.
Words that should have meant nothing, now took on a deep significance. The piano was Blair, loving him, the words of the song, Blair loving him, and memories did indeed seep from his veins, and he did indeed find peace that night, in the arms of an angel.
The loft was still, dark, quiet. Blair could only hear one thing - Jim's even breathing. And he could feel only Jim's body, warm in his arms, and Jim's breath, as it moved lightly across his chest.
He was so tired. He felt wetness on his face, but he didn't want to remove even one hand from the man who was nestled in his arms, so he let the tears fall, unchecked.