Part Two of the Madness Series
Six months later and I had everything and nothing.
I still have my heightened senses. I still have my sanity. I still have my job. I still have the loft. I still have my friends in Major Crimes. I still have everything.
I have no Guide. I have no roommate. I have no Shaman. I have no partner. I have no best friend. I have nothing.
I would give up everything to have nothing back. Sandburg back. Safe, sound, alive.
As I hike this highway headed east. I feel I am going home. I don't know why? It just feels right.
If I keep listening to those feelings I guess I'll know when I get there, where it will be.
I don't remember much.
Actually if the truth be told, I don't remember anything.
I know I woke up one day and there I was. Outside. In an alley. Covered by cardboard. Cold. Wet. Hungry. Sick.
I still have the cough and sometimes the fever gets me, but I have a goal now. I must find the place.
Sandburg has been gone too long. Jim hasn't gone back to the cold bastard he was before. But he isn't happy. None of us are.
Jim hasn't zoned.
But a piece of him is missing. It's trivial really. It's his soul.
He says the Jaguar comes to visit, but just looks at him and mewls. I don't get it. That is Sandburg's job. Sandburg isn't here anymore.
We tried to find him. But the kid really knows how to hide from a Sentinel.
Jim even paid for a PI. Not a trace.
Here. There. Anywhere.
I have been on the road now for about a week. I can't travel long. I get too tired.
I scratch my chin through the long matted beard that graces my lower face.
It has rained every day. It's cold since we're getting close to Winter. When I get where ever it is I'm going.
My shoes have holes in the soles.
I feel I have a hole in my soul.
Occasionally I get flashes.
Occasionally I see a wolf skirting the edge of the woods along the road I am walking.
The sign says
Don't Drink and Drive -
a message from the Cascade Dept of Public Safety
Why is my heart pounding? And the Wolf has suddenly gotten closer. Could this be the place I was searching for?
Can this be the place I've been searching for?
The Jaguar just won't leave me alone. It has suddenly gotten very anxious, and has begun pacing the balcony.
Something is coming.
Whatever it is can't be good.
I am really beginning to worry about Jim. Over the past few days he has gotten progressively disturbed. He snaps at everyone. Even me!
Wow, I think this is it.
Wandering this city feels like coming home. But how can that be?
Oh well, time to find a place to hole up for the night. The fever is back, and the moisture from the water is making my cough really bad. My chest really aches.
I don't have anything to eat or drink. And since I am in an industrial district there's not many options to get either. Wait I think the vegetable market is down here somewhere. I find that, I'm sure I'll be able to find something okay to eat in the trash.
Simon sent me home early today, said I was bad for morale. Well I am going to cruise the city. See if I can figure out what's going on out here.
I finally found the produce market and was not the only bum picking the refuse for sustenance. It has been a while since I have had fresh vegetables. When your on a beggar's budget, you go for cheap, and long shelf life. Like a loaf of bread. A few bare slices make you feel so full, and if your careful not to lose it, it can last for a week. But now I'm digging the veggies.
I fell in with the bums and traveled with them to the local shanty town. Scads of cardboard boxes made up this small area under a bridge. I'm gonna have to find one of those to use.
Hey I spotted a great place to flop. There are these skids piled near the bridge support. I lean them up against the support and drape a few flat sheets of cardboard over top. A lean to.
Talking to the locals, I find out that the cops here in Cascade don't really bother with the homeless as long as we stay out of trouble. Great I feel I can make a home here.
But something is up. Now I not only see the wolf, I'm seeing some big black cat. He is circling the wolf, and I wait for the fur to fly, but it doesn't. The cat turns towards the wolf and proceeds to rub it's cheek on the wolf's. I notice that the wolf is not well. It's emaciated, and looks sick and malnourished. They commune for a few moments and then turn towards me. The cat standing guard over the wolf.
But just for a moment.
But unlike the wolf who just watches me, the cat comes right up to me and sticks his nose in my face, take's a big sniff, once, twice, then curls up around me as if to keep me safe and warm. Now the wolf comes over too and lays down with it's body resting along my back.
I sleep better then I have slept since I woke up.
I cruise the city, but the Jaguar has taken a powder on me and left me high and dry.
So I go home to the loft that isn't a home now that there is nothing.
Finally after I eat a quick meal of leftover pizza, I hit the sack.
I sleep. I dream.
I see the Jaguar running through the warehouse district, chasing glimpses of a broken, emaciated wolf.
I see Blair, bearded, dirty, emaciated. The wolf.
Telling me the Guide is broken. Bound in the mists of mistrust. Bound in his own broken mind. Near.
The Guide. The Guide is near. My Guide must be found. I must bring him back to the shelter of my trust and care.
And even though it is barely dawn. I resume my search.
I pick up the phone and call Ellison's cellphone.
"Jim, we have a drug raid going on at 1059-9 Foundry Way, in the Warehouse District. You're invited. We'll meet you there.
Damn Simon for calling me now. But I obey my commander. Ever the loyal soldier.
I head down to the Industrial area.
Something wakes me in the early dawn. I feel gentle nudges at my cheek and open my eyes to see the wolf nose inches from mine.
I should be afraid. Instead I feel anxious but not because I am near them. But because I am feeling their anxiety.
I sit up and the wolf huddles to my side. I slide an arm around it's shoulder and try to soothe it with my hand by gently stroking it's head and neck.
The cat paces.
It stops and looks me dead in the eyes. It's eyes glowing. It draws closer to me and my wolf.
The cat grabs the cuff of my jacket and pulls.
I decide to talk to it and see if I can calm it down.
"Hey there big guy (I don't know why but the nickname feels right) what's wrong. It's okay."
Big Guy pulls again. Harder this time, then the last.
I realize it wants me to get up and follow it. So I do.
I pull up at the indicated meeting place and get out my vest and other riot gear. As I don the gear I make my way over to Simon.
"Jim, I want you to station yourself by those drums over there. Your job is to intercept and detain anyone who tries to escape.
I nod an affirmative and move off in the indicated direction.
I am anxious, my hearing keeps spiking. I scan for odd noises.
I hear something strangely familiar but can't place the sound. Around me chaos ensues as the bust goes down.
My attention is caught by a bum standing apart watching the melee. Standing with the spirit guides.
I focus on him.
I listen for his heart beat. It is wrong, as I strain to hear the beloved vitals all else is washed out. I have located the Guide. My Guide.
I followed the cat and wolf only to find they wanted me to watch this bust go down. Okay, free entertainment. So I observe the festivities.
I notice there is this cop watching me. Staring at me. But I can't move away. I feel this odd compulsion to go to him.
As the raid starts to wind down I take visual count of my detectives to make sure they are all okay. And they are all okay, except Jim.
Who is standing staring at a streetperson. This small dirty, scrawny, bearded bum.
Just as I realize that Jim has zoned. The bum starts towards him. Running at him. And tackles him. As an automatic rifle strafes Jim's position.
The gunfire is quickly handled, by a few of the SWAT members amongst us.
I take off towards Jim's position, afraid at what I might find. It's to early to lose one of ours. It's to early to lose a friend.
How did I get down here?
The Guide, Blair, I zoned on Blair. But what broke it?
And what's this lump across my chest? A foot. Which is attached to a leg. Which is attached to... "SANDBURG!"
When I hear Ellison bellow the Kid's name, I figure he's losing it. Then as I round the drums, I see him cradling the limp body of the bum in his arms.
Crying like a baby.
I feel warm!
I feel at home!
Am I Blair?
He is the Sentinel!
I AM THE GUIDE!
I am in pain.
Hold me Sentinel. It hurts.
They hurt. My chest, my back, my head, my heart, and my soul.
I feel tears on my face and neck.
My name exhaled in a cracking, misused voice, has never sounded sweeter. But it serves its purpose.
Suddenly Simon is there, asking questions, telling me to let go of the body. Asking if I'm shot, and if the bum (bum?) is...
I start to panic, was the Guide injured?
I lay my precious burden down on the ground and put my senses to good use.
My Guide's precious heart, beats to fast.
There is a wheeze to his breath sounds as they both enter and exit his lungs.
There is a low-grade fever. My diaphragm and jaw both clench.
"Simon, get an ambulance here now."
My beloved Guide is sick.
"jiiimmm" so soft only sentinel senses can hear it.
"your jimmm right?"
"Hush, Chief, just relax, I'm Jim. I am going to take care of you, get you home and all better.
That scarecrow is Sandburg?
Damn, I hope that ambulance gets here soon, cause that scarecrow is bleeding, and I am not going to distract Jim. He is whispering to Blair and I really don't want to interrupt, their reunion.
Slowly I become aware that the three of us are surrounded by the rest of the crew from Major Crimes. Their backs face us as they form a wall around the event taking place. But occasionally their heads take turns turning to witness the miracle that is Jim and Blair and their long awaited reunion. Emotions are going to run high tomorrow.
I am going back to having nothing. And I couldn't be happier. Soon the Loft will become a home again. It will ring with laughter and good-natured debate. Blair will be the axis of my happiness again.
As the ambulance pulls up, my mind races with ideas for bringing Blair home.
I lean over and whisper in his ear...
"Love you Chief, I'm glad your home."
I am home? I AM HOME! But where is home?
TO PART THREE
BACK TO PART ONE