A Blossoming Friendship
After our witty exchange outside of the monastery, I follow Blair inside to retrieve our belongings. Despite the promise of quiet contemplation, solitude, long walks in the forest, communing with nature and spending time with my guide, Blair and I found trouble. Well, more accurately, trouble found us. It's easy for us to call Blair a trouble magnet, but I can't blame him for this.
We walk inside our cell and start to gather our things. After a few minutes, I glance over at Blair. He's just standing there, staring out into space. I do a quick sentinel scan of him to assure myself that all is okay and everything seems normal. He seems lost in thought.
I need to break the silence. "Chief? You okay?"
He blinks, looking towards me. "Yeah. Uh Jim? Can we stop by the hospital once we get back to Cascade? I'd like to check on Brother Marcus."
"Sure, no problem. Someday, I'd like to hear the history between you and the Brothers."
Blair turns away, resuming his packing. "Not right now, Jim. This whole incident has just been too much and I need I just need to try to deal with it all. I'm going down to say goodbye to the Brothers."
I watch as Blair leaves with his duffel. I finish my packing, understanding his need to do this alone. I don't even extend out my hearing to listen in to what he might be saying.
Once more, Blair has stood up to violence and provided me with capable backup, saving others despite danger to himself. It amazes me how much Blair has had to endure since hooking up with me. If it were up to me, I'd tell him to take a hike and not risk his life, but I know he would never do that. Once Blair sets his mind to doing something, he does it full tilt, no holding back. It's one of his most endearing qualities. And because he puts his all into doing something, another piece of what makes Blair unique, peaceful and righteous has been chipped away, never to be retrieved.
I find Blair talking with the Brothers, catching them up on his studies and his work at the PD. He looks up as I walk out of the monastery. He flashes me a quick smile and walks over to me.
"Brother Jeremy has offered to drive us to your truck. I told him we could use the walk, but he refused to even consider it."
"Thank you, Brother Jeremy. It was nice to meeting all of you."
Brother Jeremy looks from me to Blair and back again. "Both of you are welcome to return whenever you feel the need. We are grateful you and Brother Blair were here to help us."
We get on the bus and Blair sits in the seat behind the driver. I sit on the seat opposite Blair, just to keep an eye on him. He seems a little rattled now that all the excitement is over.
Blair and I say goodbye one last time to Brother Jeremy as he drops us off at my truck. I unlock the doors and we get inside the truck. Blair leans back, his head resting on the seat.
"You sure you want to go by the hospital?" I don't want him to exhaust himself completely.
"I'm sure, Jim. I promise I won't stay very long. Just long enough to check on Brother Marcus."
"How did you know what I was thinking?"
"I know you, man." Blair leans forward, a smile on his face. "We've lived together long enough that I know you and you know me."
I shake my head and laugh. "No way, Junior. I don't even profess to know *or* understand you."
"Aw-w-w, c'mon, Jim! Admit it! You and I are perfect partners."
"Let's not have this discussion now, Chief. Both of us need a good night's sleep and some food before discussing something so life-changing."
"Life-changing?" Blair shakes his head and leans back against the seat. "Sometimes you amaze me, Jim."
I start the truck, taking us back to Cascade. Blair rests in the passenger seat, his eyes closed during most of the trip.
When I pull into the parking lot of the hospital, Blair becomes alert. He looks over at me, a pleading look in his eyes.
"What?" I suspect what he wants to say, but I don't want to give him ammunition to prove that I know him as well as he knows me, even if it is true.
"Um can I go in by myself, Jim? I promise I won't be long." He gives me those puppy-dog eyes.
"Okay, but if you're not back in twenty minutes, I'm storming the hospital and dragging you out by your hair!"
My comments elicit a laugh from Blair. "I'm tempted to stay twenty-one minutes just to witness the spectacle as you burst into the hospital to rescue me from myself."
Blair cannot contain the laughter inside any longer. He dissolves into near hysterics and it's contagious as soon I'm laughing with him. I regain my composure first.
"I'm serious, Chief!" I pat him on the back and he nods his head as he leaves the truck.
Twenty minutes on the dot, Blair reappears and gets into the passenger seat of the truck. He's regained the serious look on his face and I worry that all is not well with Brother Marcus.
"How's Brother Marcus?" I try to gauge his mood.
"He's going to be okay. Probably laid up for about a week in the hospital. I told him I'd stop by every day just to talk." Blair pauses and I sense he's going to say more. "You know, Brother Marcus has always been the one I was closest to. He always listened to whatever I wanted to tell him and he was never judgmental. I mean, I was always able to talk to all of the Brothers, but Brother Marcus just seemed to be on the same wavelength as I was. I had to explain more to the others, but Brother Marcus always understood, as if he had experienced the same things as I had. I know that sounds a little strange, but it's true."
I wait, wondering if Blair is going to say more. But he appears unable to express anything else. I look over at him, seeing the exhaustion that is evident in his body, mind and soul.
"After a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast in the morning, you'll be able to come back to see Brother Marcus. I have no doubts that you'll be there every day. I'll probably have to pry you away from his bedside so he can get some rest."
"Yeah, you're probably right. Let's go home, Jim."
Home. It sounds so right. Also, Blair was right earlier when he said we are perfect partners. There are times when the two of us are on the same wavelength. He knows me and I know him.
From the beginning, I never suspected such a thing could happen to me. I thought I was destined to go through life alone, never knowing the intricacies of a friendship that I would want to foster, encourage, and cherish. But sitting beside me is the one man I would do anything and everything possible. The other half of my soul. My brother of the heart.