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The evening had become rather cold.
In the last few days, although it were still mid September, in addition to a couple of rather violent rainstorms, the temperature had dropped by several degrees, till it reached unbearable levels during the night.
It was for this reason that Blair, after leaving the university, instead of going directly to meet Jim at the stakeout location, he decided before to call into home to equip himself properly for the night-long watch.
After he pulled another sweater over his flannel shirt, filled two thermos with very hot coffee and put them in his backpack, two sandwiches and some granola bars, Sandburg consider himself satisfied and, pulling on his coat he left the beautiful warmth of the loft, with a sigh of light regret.
It was about 1.30 am and all seemed perfectly quiet. The suspect, a small arms dealer who was looking to increase his profits with drugs was unaware that he was being scrutinized and shadowed for days by a large group of determined policemen, that now, were just waiting for the right moment to nail the delinquent and to rot the rising organization.
Who better than a sentinel to make up the perfect role of overseer.
So for the third night a row, Detective James Ellison found himself sacrificing his well deserved rest, remaining for 4 hours wedged in his truck with all his senses on the alert.
Luckily, his task was made easier by the presence of his partner beside him.
At the beginning, Ellison had attempted to dissuade the graduate student from accompanying him, God only knows, if the kid needed to sleep, in a warm and proper bed, but then the kid has objected that he could sleep just as well in the truck, if necessary that he had anyway, some which he needed to catch up, but above all, seeing the overwhelming stress that the sentinel had been submitted to lately due to this case, the risk to zone-out was too high and then he must absolutely be his backup
Due to that motivation and, seeing Sandburgs genuine concern, Jim felt compelled to capitulate, albeit unwillingly.
The night, although cold was at least serene and extremely quiet and hopefully, would stay so for the remainder of their shift.
Peeping out the corner of his eye, Jim found Blair completely engrossed in the reading of what seemed one of the usual old tomes that his friend dragged often with him on these long nights.
The silence of the truck, at least so Ellison thought,. allowed the observer a reasonable chance of concentration even if it was via the light of a flashlight.
Only this time, there was something strange.
A kind of noise, or better, a indefinite sound that from time in time made its appearance to break the silences monotony.
It was a sound that Jim could have sworn was coming from Sandburg. It was difficult to decipher its origin, so after to having excluded hiccups and other generally distasteful expressions, the sentinel shifted all his concentration from its original objective to scrutinize his imperturbable partner.
"Ah, theres another one." he pondered to himself. What the hell is it?
Almost as though he felt the question buzzing in the detectives head, Blair could no longer suppress the laughter that bubbled out in the tight space of the truck.
Caught completely unawares by the sudden gale of laughter, Ellison stared at his guide with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.
"Do I want to know what youre laughing about? Youve been mesmerized by that book and making those funny noises for a half-hour now. I thought that anthropology was a serious subject. Whats up, have you found another ancient ritual to conquer a damsel and add to your amorous disasters list? Or worse, some new recipes with an unrepeatable name and a nauseating odor."
With a malicious grin on his lips, the student hastened to reassure his friend.
"Oh Jim, no, dont worry, not at all!"
"If you say so, Chief, then what are you trying to slide furtively between your seat and the passenger door?"
Before Blair had time to react, Ellison reached out with lightning and dug out a little pocket volume that, until then it had been camouflaged by the other book, only this was a story collection of comic strips!
"The best stories of the Disneys characters!!! Sandburg, where did this thingummy come from? You tell the truth, Chief, did you pinch it from somewhere?
Blair straightened up on the seat a little vexed and he attempted to recover his loot with false indignation.
"For your information, this thingummy, as you colorfully described it, I havent pinched it, but I did buy it this morning since you reminded me kindly that also this evening we would be coming here to freeze. Do you have a problem with this? Al right, I adore the Disney characters, especially Donald Duck and Goofy. I began to read their stories when I was a child and I still like to, when I have enough time to relax myself a bit. I wonder what is so funny . Are you telling me that you never read these when you were a kid? Oh man, what about the films? Also you have to admit that "The emperor's new groove" was very great.. and then, do you know that Donald Duck has been chosen a study example from numerous exponents of psychology and of anthropology, you know, there is even a critical essay of a famous ."
"Okay, Chief, all right, breathe I did not mean to offend you nor to diminish the importance of your myth in modern society.. I like Donald Duck too, though I prefer Mickey Mouse."
"I would never have thought it " snickered Blair.
"Well, Chief, Im seriously thinking that your little hidden passion explain a lot to me, now."
"Why do I get the feeling that Im not going to like what you say?" The youngman asked slightly suspicious of what the detective was driving at.
"Well " answered Ellison in an amused tone, "This, perhaps explains the reason why you are a trouble magnet. I wonder why I havent, till now, correlated the two things. Give up Chief, you are the live incarnation of Donald Duck and "
"In effect " continued the detective unperturbed. "Perhaps, I should change also your nickname to something more appropriate. What do you say if, instead of Chief, I called you Quack, or perhaps Duck "
"Jim, cut out it !!" Blair tried to check the mockery of his sentinel with a light punch on the arm, looking at the same time to recover his precious cartoon strip.
Observing his friends eyes and the smile that seemed to lit up the entire truck Jim stopped for a instant to reflect on his Guides unique personality and found it easy to associate some characteristics of his many-sided personality with that of a Disney cartoon. He quickly came to the conclusion that the young man was a perfect cross between Donald Duck, Ludwig Von Drake and Goofy.
Candour, naivety, goodness of heart, carelessness, a incredible encyclopedic acquaintance, a touch of bad luck and awkwardness and many other adjectives still led Jim to see the observer police from a further perspective.
How many other surprises, how many other talents did Blair have in store for him. Maybe they would never all be revealed entirely.
A character of the comic or of a cartoon..
Blair was a source of inexhaustible resources, perhaps he must add to the other characters Gyro Gearloose too, and Jim was sure that not there was nothing that his guide wasnt able to do.
To Jim, it was enough to have the kid by him and to treasure his presence .and while the quiet night continued to pass, within the old truck, the two friends laughter, of two brothers by choice, made also a tiresome stake out, a moment very special
October 24, 2001