My way to say "Thanks"
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On the display on the wall to his left, the numbers followed one another slowly.
Perhaps it had not been a very good idea after all.
Just four days shy of November 22nd and there he was, 11oclock Monday morning, number 30 in line, behind a small group of women in an attempt to procure a turkey, if it was still possible.
He hadnt intended to leave it to the last minute, and if he hadnt, the supermarket would have been well able to fulfil his needs. But it just wasnt the same. The cellophane packaging and artificial light were not good indicators of a products freshness and quality.
No, nothing prepacked or worse, frozen. No, this would be his first Thanksgiving Day at the loft and he had every intention of making it special. And this brought him again to the present situation.
Sandburg had taken advantage of the interval time between his class and office time, to buy all the ingredients for a really special dinner.
The turkey was only the first item on a long cookery list.
In fact, between today and the following two, it would be time for the vegetables, the mushrooms, aubergines, peppers and then the fruit, of the necessary ingredients for the tiramis¨, and finally, the wine and sparkling wine, the latter, the final touch for his personal recipe for the turkey.
It was going to be necessary to use the entire day to prepare everything, but this was a very special occasion and everything had to be perfect.
On the other hand, he already knew that Jim had to work that day but it didnt matter. When his friend arrived home, a sumptuous dinner would be awaiting him. It was the very last thing that Blair could think of to pay back the detective for his availability, his hospitality.
Well, the next was his number, in spite of everything, he managed to get away with only an hour and a quarters wait. When it was his turn, he ordered what he needed, opting for a home delivery on the evening of the 21st. The boy in charge of the delivery was one of his students and Sandburg was confident he would not be ripped off. Yes!!! It would be a great Thanksgiving Day.
In the following days, the student spun like a top between university, Major Crime and various shops of foodstuffs, placing orders and choosing carefully that the various spices didnt have an unpleasant or unforeseeable effect on Jims senses. In fact, the sage to garnish the turkey had been already eliminated. It hadnt been to continue the preparations without making the detective of the year James Joseph Ellison suspicious, but with a bit of obfuscation and ability, his surprise was still safe.
Tomorrow, was D-Day.
Justin, the butcher shops delivery boy, rang the loft doorbell at five oclock sharp, as arranged, and it was sheer luck that he and Jim had not run into each other, seeing that the detective had come home earlier than usual.
It was in these circumstances that Blair used all of his ingeniousness.
Since, clearly, his succulent turkey would be immediately revealed in the fridge, Blair used the portable camping fridge, the ice chest, used usually on their fishing weekends and in the end a tiny fridge borrowed from a fellow teacher that she kept in her office.
The whole thing, meticulously hidden in his bedroom, and to cover any trace that Jim could detect with his sensitive smell, scented candles had been strategically placed in various parts of the loft.
But if the enthusiasm for the next days surprise thrilled him, the anthropologist couldnt deny a certain coldness on Jims part toward such event. Usually Thanksgiving Day was reserved to spend with ones family, just as Christmas, but it had a quite particular and special meaning.
During his childhood, Blair had shared this tradition with Naomi (when she was there) or with the various uncles scattered everywhere, or with friends during the past years at Rainer, even if in the last times he had been often by himself or if in company, feeling a little out of place.
But this year had been different. Now, he had a house, a permanent dwelling, that it wasnt his pseudo office at the university, perhaps for the first time in his life.
But Jim wasnt like him, he was disinterested, probably the nearly nonexistent rapport with his family and Carolyns departure for S. Francisco, had extinguished in him any meaning that Thanksgiving Day represented.
So, the police observer decided to himself that he would fill that void.
After all, he and Jim were much alike, both alone, without a family as a point of reference, without other relatives to make up the lack of the latter. At least, they had been able to join their solitude and, perhaps, constitute a kind of familiar unit, a little anomalous sure, but in his heart, Blair considered his Sentinel not just his Holy Grail, but the big brother that he had never had and always desired, and Jim, well, Jim also seemed be fond of the neo hippy witchdoctor punk that he had welcomed into his home, some months ago.
On his thanks list, the meeting with Jim Ellison occupied indisputably first place and tomorrow he would has ensure that the detective was aware of that fact.
When Jim crossed the threshold, he realized immediately that there was something odd. Besides various smells that he could easily link to various foods, it was the fast heartbeat of his Guide that worried him. In fact, up until the moment he arrived, Blairs heartbeat had been even and relaxed, but as soon as he entered, there was not even time to say hello before Sandburg was barricaded in his bedroom, bustling with Heaven knows what.
When he came out, Blair pretended to be surprised at his unforeseen arrival and blabbered on about mundane matters whilst all the time moving around the loft.
To not run the risk of being swallowed up by his partners inexhaustible energy, Ellison had looked for safety in a hot and relaxing shower. Oh yeah, the boy had something in mind, thought the detective with a smile, and to judge from the persistent (in spite of his roommates ingenious attempt to hide it, disseminating scented candles everywhere) smells of turkey, of mushrooms and, uhmmm, of truffle.
He really wanted to know what was the matter .
The prophetic day arrived at last and seemed to go on as usual except that Blair, rather than to go with Jim to the precinct, declared that he had a deadline to meet to finalise an article for an anthropological instalment, and that it would probably require a visit to the university for further research as well.
Jim hadnt insisted, showing understanding and saying goodbye to Blair, Jim left, knowing for certain that it was going to be a great evening.
The detective had not given much thought to celebrating Thanksgiving. Neither he nor Blair had spoken of it and so Jim had assumed that the young man would prefer to treat it as just another day.
But clearly, Blairs attitude had been such to test the waters, and to discover if a surprise of this kind would be received positively or not.
That Blair was organizing something, of this Jim was sure, even if he pretended nothing was happening, the detective had observed attentively the movements, the subterfuges and the singularity that had characterized his Guides behaviour over the last few days, and the smells carefully concealed to him but equally distinct to his sensitive nose and a nocturnal sortie in the downstairs bedroom had revealed the mystery.
Perhaps he hadnt been very honest investigating in the night but the curiosity had been too much and on the other hand he also had in store something for his thoughtful friend
Blair worked feverishly all day to prepare his special dinner. A follow-up of actions in a pre-established order optimised his time: Washing and chopping up into pieces the mixed vegetables, arranging the stuffing for the turkey, of the tiramis¨, of the mixture for the pancake, browning the mushrooms and then cutting the aubergines and the peppers into small dices and so on a sheer marathon that at the end was realized in a kitchen table sumptuously laid, a delight for the eyes, full of inviting aromas and really mouth-watering.
Though tired Blair was satisfied and proud of what he had succeeded in making, the only uncertainty that now remained, was how Jim would react to all this.
And meanwhile Sandburg was mulling over all this, a key was inserted into the keyhole and in walked the subject of his thoughts.
From the fragrant smells coming from the loft and that tickled Ellisons enhanced sense of smell from the lift, he was looking forward to tasting all the delicacies that his young friend had cooked this evening. Patting absently at the pocket of his jacket almost to reassure himself that his "gift" was still there, he hoped he could reciprocate adequately his Guides efforts and dedication.
In spite of his knowledge of Sandburgs intentions, the sight of the loft that greeted Jim, still made him catch his breath.
The living room was illuminated just from a couple of lamps, supported by dozens of odourless candles, in the background the stereo played jazz music and the table, well, the table was a feast for the eyes. Prepared with a dinner service in matching blue and white, hors d'oeuvre and snacks were already in the serving dishes, ready to be tasted. On the counter, an imposing tray with a lid suggested without a shadow of doubt its contents.
Jim was really without words, sometimes, the emotion left him speechless. On the other hand, Blair seemed at the moment nervous but he recovered nearly at once, greeting his friend with a beaming smile.
"Hey Jim, happy Thanksgiving Day, my friend! Now, close your mouth before you catch an insect, you go on to wash up your hands like a good boy and get changed, while I toast the bread, in about 10, everything will be ready, okay?!"
Swallowing a lump in his throat, the detective did as his partner suggested and two minutes shy of the ultimatum, both sat down to eat, aware of the sudden atmosphere, nearly of awkwardness, made between them.
"Blair, I really dont know what to says, all this is really .! Jim began to stutter.
"Hey, big guy, its Thanksgiving, its tradition, well, the turkey and all the rest, I mean, I want to make something special. I know it, perhaps I should have spoken with you, but I thought that youd liked it too and so Im sorry if I didnt ask your opinion about it, in the first place. Please, tell me that you arent mad "
"Blair, my God, what are you saying? As I could ever to be mad with you or to be sorry that you have planned this splendid surprise, of the time and passion spent to create this little culinary masterpiece."
"Come on Jim, you dont overdo it, its just a dinner, nothing more."
"Really? Can you answer a question, Chief?"
"If its just a dinner, as you say, why have you taken the trouble to prepare it, why put yourself to the test in this undertaking. The true reason, Chief, what has driven you to make it?"
"Well, today is Thanksgiving Day and I.."
"And you ?"
"Id liked, there I dont know how to express to you how very grateful I am for all that youve done for me. You have allowed me to study your incredible senses, to tag along with you in your work, even to let me stay in your apartment and I know important your privacy is to you and with me always in your way, you admitted it, your life has been totally twisted. I cannot believe my luck, you are my dream become reality, my Holy Grail fulfilled, right in front of me after years of research and many doubts that you really existed."
And in a soft voice and tears misted eyes, Blair whispered a moved < Thanks >
The Sentinel listened to his best friend heartbreaking motivations with great attention and a warm sensation in his heart. Now was the time to tell the police observer just how important he was in Jims life.
"Blair, listen to me, its me that must thank God to have you in my life. Before your arrived, I was like on the edge of a precipice. Certainly, I would have gone crazy or worse Id have put to risk the life of who was by me, on account of my "senses". Now, instead all of its changed. Sure, the road to learning to control my senses will be long, and its still some way off but if you wasnt here, I would have not any possibility. Thanksgiving Day is one's own as you claim, its an occasion to be grateful of what we have, and I have you! Do you understand little brother?"
With a megawatt smile Blair answered squeezing Ellisons hand reached out toward him.
"Sure big brother!
"Perfect! Anyway, before we dig in to all this good stuff, there is a last thing.."
And so saying, Jim pulled out an envelope handing it to the anthropologist.
"This is for you"
"What is this, Jim?"
"Why dont you open it instead of asking silly questions?!"
"Ah ah, Jim, very funny, but you are improving however "
The note was a delivery order, Blair looked up at his Sentinel, confusion showing in his face.
"Jim, but what does it mean? I dont understand."
"It means Einstein, that tomorrow, you could to go to the Allbook Library and pick up the book that corresponded with the code printed on the note. Its simple, no?
"But I havent ordered anything "
"This is partially true, Chief, because I have ordered it for you. One of the sales clerks that seemed know you rather well mentioned to me a text book, rather dated, on ancient keepers or something of the kind, perhaps youll can find something of value for your studies, and so "
"Oh my god, Jim, tell me that you not have did it, you have did it! The trilogy "First Footsteps through
Africa ", Ive dreamed of buying it for years, but how did you know? Oh Jim, I dont know what to say, you didnt have to do this. Its a very rare Anthology and also rather expensive "
"Its nothing compared to the sacrifice and commitment that youve given me all these months. You know it, Sandburg, Im not very good at speeches, not like you, anyway. These last days, I thought often about our partnership, how my life has changed till since you come into it. Then I realized, suddenly, that I havent ever thanked you really, for your help, for to being here, with me. So, I thought that today would have been the perfect day to make up for my mistake."
"A simple card would have been sufficient, not this." Blair replied, pointing the note clutched in his hand.
"Then you consider it my way to say THANK YOU, as this dinner is for you, Chief, so, if you have finished jabbering, what do say to we begin to enjoy the delights that you have cooked?"
In fact, Jim looked forward to sinking his teeth into the turkey over there.
With his heart still in tumult from the confessions exchanged with each other in the last few minutes, Blair playfully attempted to brake his friends eagerness and hunger.
"Im afraid that the turkey will be a little while yet, Jim, in fact first there is the vegetable garlic bread, then the flapjacks, then there will be ."
Fin et bon appÚtit ..
December 1, 2001