When wishes and plans take different ways
Tuesday, May 13 Present
Hot and dry is my world. Here and now.
He almost regretted the awful cold and wet so typical of Cascade, even if last week, it had been never-ending gloomy. The idea of running away to some tropical island had allured Blair once or twice.
Then, the call from Mr. Harding.
He was the Dean of the Historys Faculty with a great love for the Roman and Etruscan cultures and his offer to Sandburg of an assignment with regard to this, had, for Blair, literally made the sun break through his clouded mind.
In fact, Harding was organizing an important exhibition centered just on just his passion: The times and Places of Etruscans Splendour.
A meticulous and involving historic itinerary dedicated to the usages, customs and arts of the Etruscan people who lived in Italy between VII and I century A.C.
Really terrific thing, Blair had thought, but even more fantastic, had been the teachers proposal to him to go to Rome to supervise personally some of most precious Etruscan artefacts that Villa Giulia National Museum had kindly lent to Rainer University by virtue of their long collaboration and cultural exchanges.
Blair was beside himself with joy.
A week in Italy, totally free and just in that period, the wonderful spring. Obviously the young man had immediately taken up the offer, thanking the Professor profusely; too honored and excited to say anything else.
A week before, Monday May 5
Only an hour after since Hardings call, Sandburg was still bouncing while he was cooking the dinner, and that was how Ellison found his roommate that evening.
From the elevator Jim had heard his friend to singing while he busied himself with pots and pans: "<<<Oh sole mio oooo>>> No, no this is a Neapolitan song, lets see Oh yeah ***<<<Volare oh oh, cantare oh oh oh! Nel blu dipinto di blu, felice di stare quassł, con te!>>>
"Hi Frankie, whats happened? Your last conquest finally capitulate to your constant whine and agreed to go out with you?!"
"Its called charme, mon ami, and mine is historically and universally IRRESISTIBLE!"
"If you say so, Chief. Wow! Cannelloni!"
"Yup, and to satisfy my carnivore Sentinel, half of them are with prosciutto for you and the other half is with ricotta and spinach for me."
"Yhumm, what do I do to be worthy of such a delicacy?"
"Im sorry to disappoint your ego. Actually this dinner is a sort of celebration."
"This dainty Italian dish, so like the carpaccio with artichokes in oil that are like the main course, its to celebrate fittingly our next journey in Italy!"
Just to say those words gave Blair a megawatt smile and his eyes a brilliance to put at shame the starry sky.
Seeing the anthropologist so happy gave also to the detective great joy, making him just for a moment to not notice the use of a particular possessive.
"I get you wrong or you said our, Chief? Do you mind explaining to me what I have to do with your sudden announcement."
"Oh, Jim, its a perfect opportunity, youll see, well spend a wonderful week. Just you think about close your eyes and you can already see us there, to enjoy the monuments, the archaeological sites, the food A culture completely different from ours And we cannot forget the girls! Itll be fantastic!"
"Sandburg Chief! Slow down now. I still don't understand any of this, so take a breath and tell me all this crazy story in detail."
"I have already told you that you are lacking terribly in enthusiasm!?!"
"Maybe because you have enough for both of us."
"Okay, okay. Well, to make a long story short; I have to go to Italy and precisely to the Eternal City to be entrusted with some important Etruscan artefacts for an exposition here in Cascade. Think about, us in Rome! I cannot still believe it I've got to email my mom right away! We always had this dream to go to visit Europe a one day, but you know, the money well, Italy isnt really around the corner, and now "
"Blair, do would you stop bouncing like a little bunny and tell me why you have counted me into your plan as well?"
"Why? Don't you want to go with me? I thought that you would have been happy to take off for a while from the work and enjoy this unrepeatable occasion. Besides, its all right. Mr. Harding has accepted your presence with me without a problem, on the contrary...knowing that there will be even a cop to keep an eye on the artefacts. Unfortunately the whole sojourn is free just for the supervisor but I though that if we split the cost between us, it won't be a crash for our finances. As for you, well speak with Simon. This is a quiet time lately, so I guess that there wouldn't too many problems for him to allow you some time off. So, it's all perfect. Oh man, its so cool!"
"Ok, it seems like you have everything planned, so when are we supposed to leave for the Bel Paese?"
"The next Saturday, its all arranged. The flight, the motel and all the rest."
"You mean this Saturday?"
"Yeah, from May 10 to May 16.Anyway, we can talk about it some more during dinner, so you go freshen up, meanwhile, I'll set the table."
Deciding that at the moment it was better to comply with Sandburgs directive, Jim chose to delay until after dinner the news that Simon had give him before he'd left the bullpen.
They were two full up persons that relaxed on the couch after their feast.
"Man, it will needed at least two hours of jogging tomorrow morning to work this delight off."
"Then you think what itll be like to jog in one of Romes parks at dawn. I have by now I've taken a look at some special sites on the net and I found one that's really terrific."
"I thought that we could rent a car, or better, considering the traffic it could be useful to hire a motoscooter, what is its name, you know, like that used by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in their film set in Rome, wait oh yeah, the Vespa. Then there is the language problem. Italian isnt very easy to learn in a few days, but knowing Spanish and a good dictionary surely will help us. Just think, to see the Coliseum. If some director sees you in the context of the roman forum, you, my friend, will be surely the next gladiator!"
"I dont know whether to be flattered or offended by your last comment, kid."
"I swear that it was an honest opinion."
"Oh sure "
"Really, Jim! You are much better than Russell Crowe, and besides you have blue eyes!"
"Thanks Chief! Im sure that we would have had a beautiful time there, you have been able to act as a chaperone for me, but youll enjoy this intercontinental job without me "
"Well, we could say that this time Ill be a Guide in every respect and Wait! WHAT DO YOU MEAN: EVEN WITHOUT ME !?!?!What are you talking about, Ellison? Don't you want to benefit from this opportunity? Do you prefer to stay in this sucks weather instead of basking in the warm Mediterranean climate?"
"Believe me, Blair, to be in Italy with you would be my perfect dream now, particularly after the subpoena that Simon gave me tonight."
"The Brinkman trial. Itll begin next Monday in Seattle. You know that Det. Carlyles testimony, and mine are essential to send that monster to rot in jail for life. I would like so much to not give up your journey, Chief, but what choice do I have?"
"I understand, Jim, Im sorry if I have overreacted, but its so unfair. I had so many projects for our trip and now, without you, well, it will be not the same."
"Im sorry too, but Blair, you have to promise me that youll be careful. That youll have fun and youll stay out of trouble, even with the local beauties and you know what I mean about beauties, don't you?"
A soft snicker was Blairs answer to Jims advice.
The next Tuesday, Present
The phone rang in Blairs motel room.
"Hi, Chief, do can you hear me?"
"Yes, Jim, I hear you very well."
"Then, how is the weather?"
"Hot, Jim, hot and dry. Im looking forward to coming back home."
"Have a little patience, Sandburg. Another three days and youll be again where you belong."
"When can you leave Seattle?"
"I think that Saturday will be the last day for Carlyle and me. If the Judge will consider, like we hope, all the accusatory evidence acceptable, we will be excused from further hearing. You know, we could probably come back the same day in view of the last flight and the time zone."
"I hope so, Jim. I had not idea how much Id miss you those days. And definitely I miss my bed, and my food, even the rain, do you believe it?"
"Hang on, Chief, we are almost on the home straight. Try to think of that till then, Okay??!"
"Ok, Big Guy, thanks. See you at home Saturday."
"You can count on it!"
"Bye, Chief, and Sandburg "
"Say hello for me to the Sphinx, and to Cheope, and to others Pharaoh too "
The receiver abruptly being put back in its slot signalled the end of the intercontinental call.
Alone in the hotel room, Blair begin to brood over his current predicament. What had happened to him bordered on the ridiculous.
In fact, two days before the departure, the Professor Harding had a bad car accident, so it had been agreed to postpone the exhibition a future date to be decided.
In some way or other, Mr. Harding had succeeded in involving Blair in a new assignment. Another cultural exchange but not with Italy unfortunately, but with the very sunny Egypt. Wonderful country for the anthropologist, but totally different from his lifelong dream.
Looking at the pictures taken during his stay in Cairo, Blair vowed to himself that as soon as possible he and Jim would be successful in fulfilling his wish and maybe turn a week in Italy into something more, perhaps to call at Paris or go taste the Sacher torte in Vienna!
***Probably someone of you know already those Italian songs, or maybe not, anyway the translation of this unforgettable and very popular song of Domenico Modugno is more or less so:
>>>To fly, oh oh. To sing oh oh oh! In the blue, paint of blue, so happy to stay up there, with you!<<<
Rome, May 16, 2003