The Madness Series
Descent into Madness
Part One of the Madness Series
Bilson, DeMeo, and all the other brilliant people at Pet Fly own the boys. We just get to take them out for a cerebral version of "walkies."
Warning: If you like Naomi there is much ahead to be afraid of, cause I dont like her at all as youll see.
Warning #2: I believe the bathroom is another room that can be
Used to develop plot. So occasionally I venture into the world of
Porcelain and Stainless steel. Ahhh urinals too.
Thanks to My fine Listsibs at Sentinelangst whose encouragement and LoCs drove me on into this neverending story <g>.
Thanks to Hazel for all her "cheerleading" and for helping to make sure this series is ready for viewing by the public.
" clear out your office by Friday!"
I ran out of that building like the hounds of hell were nipping at my heels. Course in a metaphoristic way they were, if you thought about the press who were so damn eager to profit at my downfall.
I somehow managed to make it back to the loft and inside without facing more cameras, microphones, and flashbulbs, all the fanfare that signified the giant flush noise that had become my future. Shutting the door and securing it with the chain as well as the deadbolt I retreated behind the french doors.
Picking up my laptop, I stroked the cover possessively for a short second before I opened it and powered it up. Accessing the C prompt I typed FORMAT and taking a deep shuddering breath, I pressed return. Then I stood and watched my dream become a spectre of my overactive memory. If I could only do that with my life, you know type the word format and suddenly a fresh start, no scandal, no death, no dissertation, nothing.
In most normal situations the most I ever drink is maybe a bottle of beer or two. But right now that did not seem like it would be enough to drown my sorrows, but that is all that was in the loft. So I went out to the fridge and grabbed a bottle before retreating once again to the room, I had called my own for the last three or so years. Sorting through some of my stuff I put aside those things that I would get the highest resale for. My laptop, cell phone, laser printer with extra toner cartridges, any software for the PC, my Swiss army knife, a gold chain given to me by an ex-girlfriend. Then packing it in a box with any receipts, manuals, or proof of ownership, I left out the emergency exit on to the fire escape.
I made it to the Volvo without being caught by any of the sharks waiting outside 852 Prospect. And stashing the stuff in the back seat, I started the car and took off for the pawnshop I had dealt with in the past.
"Hi Steve, I have a few things here I need cash for, what can you give me for them?" I asked the clerk behind the cage.
"Hey Prof, last grant not come through?" Answered the clerk with some familiarity, and little idea of the current events. I guess that means I was moving fast enough.
After some haggling we settled on five hundred for the lot, which was a lot less then I was hoping for, but better than what I had.
Now the Volvo.
I walked out the used car dealer with another five hundred dollars in cash. Not bad for a "classic."
I grabbed the bus and rode it to the newspaper office where I took out the following classified: I, James Joseph Ellison of Cascade, WA, do hereby state that I am not responsible for the past, present, or future debt(s) or action(s) of my onetime roommate Blair Sandburg, also of Cascade, WA.
I told them to run it for one month, every Sunday, then paid for it in cash and left.
I took the bus back to the Loft, making a stop at the liquor store for something harder than beer.
Damn, Jim was home. And the gauntlet was still in front of the building.
Well here goes Nothing.
I made it through the sea of reporters relatively unscathed, and stood across from the door to the Loft wondering if I dared to open the door. The decision was made for me as Jim opened it and stood to the side to allow me to enter.
As I walked past I noticed he had a screwdriver in one hand. What the hell was he tinkering with now?
"Hey Sandburg, if your gonna go out can you please make sure you take the chain off. I had to bust in the door just so I could get in when I came home."
Jims words stopped me dead in my tracks just at my the french doors. SHIT, in my rush to get out earlier I had totally forgotten about the chain. Damn, damn, damn Stupid-stupid-stupid-stupid. "Sorry man, it wont happen again. I promise." I reassure him as I open the french door and step into my (damn) the room.
Right now I dont want to antagonize Jim anymore and cause him to throw my worthless ass out in the street before I am ready and able to handle being there. And thats where Im headed. Theres one thousand dollars and Jims charity between me and the homeless shelter and soup kitchens. And unlike the Alex Barnes situation, I know whats coming this time and I plan to be prepared.
I sit on the futon and roll over to curl up in a ball with my coat still on. Yeah, Id better get used to sleeping in my clothes and shoes. Cause once I hit the streets or the woods, I wont have the liberty of a full wardrobe to change into and store my clothes in. Maybe you think Im being a little melodramatic here by saying that I am headed for the streets and homelessness, but come on. Whos going to hire me, whos going to trust me. Yeah thats the kicker, trust. I cant be trusted. By friends, employers, myself. Hell, I told myself I had it all under control. See, I even lied to myself. I was told by someone Ive forgotten about that if your told about the same personality trait three times or more, most likely it must be true. Well with me it is trust I guess. Jim has told me three times I couldnt be trusted, Simon has said the same thing when he accused me of being the leak during the Lash case. And now I have affirmation from myself.
As I stood in front of the door fixing the chain latch, I listened to Sandburg rustle around in his room. I didnt like the tension between us, but with the press shadowing my every move, I wasnt ready to let my anger at the situation go.
Okay, maybe he didnt mean to let the diss be read by anyone, even Naomi, however he should know better than to trust people not to dig into the files on his PC. He shouldve password protected it. I still dont know what hes planning on doing with all the perks he has been offered to let it be published. I mean, three million dollars. Hell, even I dont know if I could turn that down.
I know that we are going to have to talk about this if our friendship has any chance to survive.
I guess I should go out and make Jim some dinner. One thing about it, hell be able to go back to eating at WonderBurger all he wants. It is my week to buy groceries too, so Ill do that one last time so Jim doesnt have to worry about it for a while. Maybe I should slip out the back again now and run down to the corner market. Ill put on some sort of hat and pull my hair up, that should fool most of the press. Yeah, its a plan.
So I rise from my huddled position, and reach into one of the drawers of my dresser for an old tweed cap, and squeezing all my hair up under it. Im out the door in a flash and on my way down the fire escape again.
Hey, whats he doing now? So I go over and knock on his door.
No answer. "Chief, you in there?" I listen for him. Nothing. No answer, no heartbeat. Where the hell did he go?
I open the door to his room and peer around. I immediately notice that there are a few things up with the whole picture.
First of all it is relatively neat for him. The Laptop is missing. And his backpack is still there. I guess that means he is coming back sooner or later. I just dont know how he can deal with the vultures outside of the building.
I make it to the market and on the way back to the Loft I take off the cap and stuff it in the bag. I dont want to lose the use of this very easy and handy disguise.
Of course as soon as they spot me they swarm around asking questions at a furious rate. I dont answer as I fight my way through. I just pretend they arent really there. I should get used to that. Not being there. Because soon, Ill be invisible, one of thousands.
I heard Sandburg's heart get closer to the door and was able to be there to open it for him. As he stepped close enough I grabbed him by the back of the collar and pulled him inside. Unfortunately my worry at his sudden disappearance took the form of anger. "Where the hell did you go, out to feed the vermin more secrets?" I snap just a bit irrationally. Then I notice the paper sack in his arms and felt him shudder in reaction to my verbal attack.
Instead of answering Jim's words I abruptly push the grocery bag into his arms and take off for the safety of my (damn, damn, damn, I'll never get this right) the spare room. I do not slam the door, I shut it softly and carefully so I won't be taken to task for that action too. I think I have decided that until I can "escape" this situation, I am not going to say another word. No one will listen to a liar anyway.
Once again I curl up in a ball trying to stifle my racing heart and the sobs that are trying to work their way up from the ball of stone that is my diaphragm.
I hear a soft knock at the door through the miasma that is my pain. "Chief, I am sorry about that scene at the door, I was just really worried when you took off out the back earlier. Come on out we'll make dinner." I couldn't eat if Jim offered dinner to me on a silver platter and on his knees.
The door's not locked, if he wanted to, he could come in. Hell, even if it were, he could find any number of ways to get in. But it's obviously not worth the effort, so he goes away. I doze off.
Okay, I can think of only a few times when Sandburg's been this silent and most of them involve the hospital or a fountain. But it has never been good. I decide to call Simon, see if he has any ideas.
The phone rings and I grab the handset out of the cradle, barking into the mouthpiece, "Banks."
Great another round of Sentinel/Guide counseling. Seems like all I do anymore is help keep Ellison and Sandburg from detonating. Although with the exception of Blairs abbreviated death, I dont think the situation has ever been this close to crumbling into very fine irreparable pieces.
I dont think Ellison would oust the kid after the condition we found him in during the Barnes case, however Old Stone Face is not the unknown component.
Sandburg never reacts the way you expect anyone to react. In fact the safest bet with him, is just not to place the bet at all. Oh, you can bet on his loyalty, his trust, his honor even, but not on how hes going to react to all the bullshit with his dissertation. The only thing he has worked harder on is teaching Jim to control his senses.
But Sandburg has lost control. And Jim has left him emotionally high and dry. I must put Ellison on guard and also prepare him. His Guide is going to do something. It might be suicide, either physical or professional. It might be divorce, from his Sentinel, or himself.
Sandburg was raised with the philosophy detach with love. And I dont doubt that he loves Jim, and I know Jim loves Blair, however like the song says you only hurt the ones you love. And in this relationship Jim is a grade A dominatrix, and Blair is simply Loves Bitch.
Over the years I have seen Ellison take, take, take. And with the exception of a roof over the kids head, not really give much back.
I really dont see it. Why does he stay? Jim is my friend, but sometimes I really want to smack him upside the head and tell him wake up and smell the coffee in Tacoma.
Jim is telling me hes worried about Sandburg. The kid is too "quiet." Hes acting like he has lost a purpose in life. Like he has lost himself.
I wake up and expect the clock to read sometime in the morning, but it turns out I only dozed for about thirty minutes. Why am I curled up in the corner on the floor? Why do I still have my coat on? Why is there a bottle of grain alcohol sitting unopened by my head? Man I am so losing it!
Then reality sets in. Oh yeah, thats why. Armageddon for my life. I get up and resume starting my new existence. I open the bottle.
I hear paper rustle behind the french doors. Sandburgs moving again. Suddenly there is the overpowering smell of very strong booze. I can hear the faint sounds of liquid pouring and swallowing. There is a faint gasp. Then more pouring/swallowing sounds. Is he drinking. Hard liquor. Maybe I can interest him in tea, chamomile, for the nerves. Simon told me I should be supportive or my Guide will be lost. So I must take care.
I did notice for the first time tonight, that the press did not seem as intent on grilling me about being superman, maybe they have found bigger fish to fry. So maybe I should cut Blair a break.
I hear Jim call out for me, but its like I am hearing two things at once, Jim and a loud woooooshing noise. Man this grain is fun stuff, I think I have found a new power drink.
Bag the Sentinel. I start pitching papers. And humming off key. Thatll probably drive him nuts. Man, I have to take a wicked piss. Oh well lets go beard the Jaguar in his den
I am almost zoned on the activity (or lack of it) from Blairs room. No noise nothing, except occasional drinking noises.
Suddenly the door to his room opens and he walks carefully out and to the bathroom. A moment later he returns and the door closes quietly behind him. Eerie.
Dude is probly wearin his white noish earsplugs, cuz he dint een say nythin bout all da rket Iz makin. Man I thin I n-nee nother sip. I still fel so-sober. Damn stuffz 180 prufn Iz not-t eve feelllln buzzzd.
Other than the one trip to the bathroom, I dont hear or see Sandburg before I decide to go to bed. I walk over to the doors and call a soft goodnight before I ascend to my room.
I strip down to boxers and climb into bed, where I pull on my sleep mask. I do not put on the white noise machine or earplugs because I want to be prepared should Sandburg need me. I settle back and try to relax.
Somewhere deep in my subconscious Jims goodnight makes it self known. And the now more prevalent depressed part responds thats goodbye, man.
Now all I need is for Jim to go to work. Then I can clean out this place, leaving the only evidence of my passing through to be a fully trained Sentinel, and a small pile of clean colored tupperware. He will hopefully and eventually remember me fondly whenever he looks at it. I can see him now pulling out a container to put his leftover pasta in, "gee what was the name of that guy who stayed here and used this, hmmm, oh right Blair.
But my heart, my heart is saying, please Jim, dont make me leave. But you know it should shout instead of whisper if it wants to be heard above the din that my brain is making.
I always thought it was crazy when insane people say that they hear voices, hey but now I can too, so I guess that makes me crazy. Well Ill fit right in with some of the bums Ive seen on the streets.
I close the still very full bottle and curl back up in my corner. I got to get used to the lack of comfort. I sink into a disturbed slumber.
I wake and do a sensory sweep of the loft as I come back online. I can hear Blairs heart beating, soft and steady. Hes still asleep. I rise.
I do the usual morning stuff and decide to skip breakfast, I think Ill get a donut.
I notice two things as I leave for work, Sandburg is just waking, and the vermin outside the front door barely look at me. Maybe they will soon just go away.
I hear the door close.
And I feel its echoes and aftershocks through my psyche.
I wait till I am sure Jim is gone and I start my day.
First I find everything that is mine throughout the rest of the loft and strip it from Jims existence. Surprisingly it comes to a good-sized collection.
I separate it into categories. Books and CDs, (take to the Library and say they are a donation), clothes, (to goodwill) artifacts, (ship to a museum) and everything else gets pitched.
Only one thing do I leave out.
The monograph, that I place under Jims bed I want him to forget me, but not what he is. The Sentinel.
It takes me six hours to eradicate Blair Sandburg, MA, guide, police consultant, and general nuisance from James Joseph Ellisons life.
I grab my backpack and I walk out on life.
I come home to find nothing. I pick up the phone and dial his cell and get a message that that cellular number is not in service. What has he done?
I heard about the press conference at the station today. What has he done?
Now I notice there is nothing. Nothing where there used to be Blair.
I open the french doors. Nothing.
I go in the kitchen. A pile of clean red tupperware. Nothing.
What has he done? Nothing.
What have I done? Nothing.
There is Nothing.
TO PART TWO