A shadow in my fate and in your life

By: Antonella

FEEDBACK TO: antonella_stelitano@virgilio.it

 

The E.R.’s waiting room was moderately crowded.

Some elderly, probably under the influence, a cyclist with scratches and livid assorted bruises, and on his right, a man with expensive dress and a leather suitcase firmly held, between his feet, was speaking animatedly on his cell phone, explaining that it wouldn’t be possible to arrive on time at the manager’s meeting because on the way, distracted by the cell phone’s trill, he had run a lights, centering squarely on another car. Luckily the damages, both physical and material had been limited, thanks to the seatbelt, to the air bag and the moderate speed, and the man, after this mishap, was promising to his interlocutor, that the Viva Voice device had been his first purchase as soon as he left by that anteroom. At least this time, someone was willing to correct the error that had caused the incident. A little incident that could have had however far worse consequence.

How, instead, he could pay if…

Observing his bandaged hand, he, for a instant saw, a disturbing image conjure up in his mind, his heart began to beat furiously till he heard it throb in his temples, a solid sandstone seemed then to rest on his chest till he perceived that he could no longer draw air into his lungs.

When he was sure that he was on the point of fainting, a shrill voice called the following patient, "Blair Sandburg"

The sound of his name succeeded in to tearing Blair from the abyss in which he was about to drop some instant before.

A whirl of sensation that was possible to describe with a very simple term but which had much more profound implications. Fear!

Some hours ago, Rainier University

"For today, that’s all guys, see you the day after tomorrow. Remember to take with you the lecture notes that I distributed to you at the beginning of the lesson"

Several of the students answered in, unison: "Certainly Mr. Sandburg!" provoking laughter to the teacher who then remarked half seriously.

"I must have mistaken my lecture hall this morning. I believe that mine was a class of future anthropologists, not of promising chorus singers"

Dismissing his students, Sandburg headed toward his office to decide what to do.

Having the rest of the morning free and with Jim engaged in court, it left Blair with the opportunity to organize, as he liked that precious time to disposition.

As he crossed one of the Hargrove Hall’s long corridors, the anthropologist stopped by one of the huge windows that overlooked the campus and a brilliant idea struck his mind, lighting up his face and quickening his steps.

 

‘How peaceful is it here’ Sandburg thought to himself, while he finished eating his sandwich.

In the quiet of that park’s corner that surrounded the university, Blair had decided to pass the latest three hours, studying, outlining his plan of the lessons for the rest of the week and above all enjoying the magnificent blue sky and tepid sun, a rare exception from the usual tiresome cold and rainy weather, so typical of Cascade.

In the course of the morning, the park was very slowly filled with people that had evidently his same desire to be in the open air: skaters, cyclists, young women with strollers, and finally a group’s kids that was playing ball.

It was incredible that a few rays of sunshine could drive so many people out to enjoy them.

Suddenly, while he was preparing to leave his little oasis, a ball rolled a little distance from him, to end in the bush behind his bench.

Blair indicated to the children that he’d recover it for them, but ransacking between the thick branches, a prickly pain to his hand’s span interrupted his search.

Withdrawing his arm, Sandburg looked with horror at the syringe, the needle of which was still stuck in the outside part of his right palm. With a calmness that he was surprised he had at the moment, he fumbled in his pockets and drew out a pack of Kleenex and, taking one, he unthreaded the syringe with a little hiss of pain, then wrapped it in the journal that he had taken with his books, and cast it in the nearby litter bin.

Another Kleenex was used to press on the bruise caused by the needle where a few drops of blood still oozed. So intent on his task, the police observer didn't realize immediately the children that were going to claim their ball. Clearly, he couldn’t allow them to search further, there could be other syringes in the bushes, and so with a bit of persuasion he succeeded in convincing them to inform their parents while he called the campus’ patrol with the cell phone.

Everything was settled within a short time, and Blair reassured all who approached or had witnessed the situation, that help was coming. Many were upset that a simple stroll in the park could involve such risks. Unaware of the comments around him, Sandburg knew that for him, a nightmare was just beginning.

Present, loft

After to having spent further two hours in hospital to finish all the requested tests, Blair decided to go back home rather than meet Jim at the precinct. He was still too upset and the Sentinel would certainly perceive that something disturbed his guide.

Hell, anyone who paid the slightest attention would know, seeing him now. He was worn-out, physically and psychologically, and in that exact moment, his only desire was a long and very hot shower, a cup of chamomile tea and to collapse finally on his bed.

Even the weather suddenly worsened with threatening cloud and icy wind.

Too tired to even take another step, Sandburg sat heavily on the couch to try to ease his nerves.

The doctor that had disinfected his wound in E.R., had attempted to reassure him even if, only with modest result. The blood tests to which he had subjected Sandburg, not concerned not only the risk of a possible transmission of the HIV’s virus, but also of the hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

Sure, the chance was not likely, yet the concrete probability of contracting "something" in a similar predicament allowed a moderate optimism.

In that case, the risk wasn’t so minimal, the student noted to himself. The outlook of living the following three weeks in a limbo, awaiting the outcome, filled him with anguish, and then, that sensation would be protracted for a further six months, when he would need to come back again to repeat the tests till every danger of infection was dispelled in time.

Realizing the emotional turmoil that the patient in front of him, was suffering, the doctor, with a calm voice, told to Blair a similar experience that occurred to him the previous year when he gave first aid to an addict and that, luckily, it hadn't had any consequence.

On the other hand, in their workplace, in spite of the rigid precautions, incidents happened in any case, and it was nearly routine to submit to the test, often more than once.

Blair clearly understood what the doctor was attempting to do, and that was offering him hope that all would be well, and he, rationally, should accept the words, the assurances and information that the doctor had given to him before he left the hospital, but…this couldn’t erase the unknown that was now his future. How could he pass this three weeks pretending that all in his life goes on in the usual chaotic routine. He agreed daily with a dozen persons where he had found the strength to maintain almost continually a smokescreen of joviality and deceive anyone, that all was "cool" as usual.

He wasn’t absolutely persuaded that he could succeed in remaining focused on his engagements instead of thinking constantly about the blood test’s result.

Providentially, years of practice in the suit to every situation, had taught him very well the fine art of obfuscation, but there was a little leak in his scheme.

Jim

Jim wasn’t like the others. He was special. He was a Sentinel, and a policeman. Accustomed to observe, to draw information also from apparently insignificant details.

Even if, with his students and colleagues at the university, perhaps, Sandburg could succeed without many problems to hide his concerns, with his best friend, it was all another story.

Luckily, no one had any knowledge of the morning’s incident.

The campus security officers had collected the statements of the worried witnesses of the fact when he was already on his way to the hospital, but no one had taken notice of the victim's identity.

But, even if Jim hadn’t reason to suspect or find out anything, Blair doubted he could succeed in assuming a thoughtless and joyful look till the day of the truth.

Even if, to most, Jim could seem a cold and detached man in comparison of the other, Blair knew the truth, that in reality the Sentinel was a thoughtful and generous soul, who tended to be particularly protective those who were dear to him.

It wasn't, anyway, just the fact that Jim might discover what his guide may now carry in his body, the disease of the century, the true terror that gripped the observer’s heart, it was that he might infect accidentally and mortally, the person that he considered as a brother.

A terrible vision of a Jim dying, thin, unrecognisable, his eyes misted by agony, begin to torment him.

A hiccup, release of his despair rose from his throat, his eyes tight to keep the tears at bay, and the young man curled up on the sofa, worn by the fear and misery.

All at once, the world seemed close up around him, to choke him, to crush him.

He had to run away, move, for a while or perhaps forever. He couldn’t to risk Jim’s life.

Jim had a gift so rare and unique, he was important and Sandburg must do everything to protect him. That was the guide’s commitment. To protect his Sentinel.

And the only way to do it, was to leave, at least till the day that he knew his destiny, then…

Then, anything the fate, God, or any deity had in store for him, he’d face up to it at that moment.

Now, what the student absolutely needed was a good excuse to leave the only secure place that he ever had in his life, without creating much suspicion to his roommate detective.

With a plan already in mind, Blair chose to put aside his fear and to act.

He had a friend to protect, and with that thought in mind Blair drifted to sleep.

Finis