Between Two Waves
The week had been horrific. Definitely one of
those that if you had to look back on it later, it would only be with a shudder and a
silent prayer to whatever you called god that it would never be repeated. Death and stench
and blood. And more blood. In everything Jim
Ellison had seen, in everything life had dealt him, this was the one week he wished he
The week had been horrific. Definitely one of those that if you had to look back on it later, it would only be with a shudder and a silent prayer to whatever you called god that it would never be repeated. Death and stench and blood. And more blood. In everything Jim Ellison had seen, in everything life had dealt him, this was the one week he wished he could erase.
But they had caught the son-of-a-bitchin' bastard. Caught him; and when he'd held the knife high, refusing even at the end, to give in, it had been Jim Ellison's duty and perverse satisfaction to put a bullet right between his eyes, ripping a fist-sized hole out the back of his skull and spraying his diseased brain over the cheerful yellow and white daisy patterned wallpaper. And then the cop, veteran of more horrors than any man should have to survive in one lifetime, turned and vomited over the back railing of the small back stoop; because they'd been too late to save the madman's latest victim, his own tiny three-month old daughter. The parts that were still recognizable were spread over the kitchen table like an inventory of dismembered doll parts.
The near silent dry heaves stopped only when he felt the broad square palm in the middle of his back and the calm murmured voice of his friend finally penetrated the thick mucousy roar that filled his senses. "Hold it together, Jim. It's over. We did the best we could," Sandburg said. "It's done,
"I've got it," the cop assured him gruffly. "I'm okay." Ellison wiped his mouth as he stood upright. "Thanks, Chief. Let's get this wrapped up."
And they had. Hours, or was it days?, later the two men wearily climbed the stairs of 852 Prospect. Both were quiet, trudging up the steps more from habit than conscious will. Ellison stopped in front of the loft door, staring blankly at the impediment to his destination before giving himself a shake and digging into his pocket for his keys.
"Here, move over, Jim. I've got mine." The shorter man slipped in front of the cop, taking the lead. "Let's get inside, fix some dinner, watch a little TV. Maybe just veg a while."
Ellison followed his roommate into the loft, caught up in the wake left by the younger man. He dropped the keys he'd managed to pull from his pocket in the basket by the door because Sandburg stared up at him like he expected him to. And hung his coat up for the same reason. He knew his friend was concerned by his silence, but words seemed to take too much thought and he wasn't ready to think just yet.
"You grab the first shower while I start dinner then you can finish it up while I get mine, okay? Just don't use all the hot water." The admonishment was a ritual between the two of them now, one that neither really gave much attention. "There's stew left over in the freezer, that sound okay to you? Maybe sandwiches to go along with it?" Sandburg moved into the kitchen, looking like he expected his friend to follow his suggestions. So he did.
He didn't take long in the shower, needing more than the feeling of the hot water washing over his aching muscles. It wasn't his body that needed cleansing. "Thanks, Chief," he murmured as he took his turn in the kitchen so his friend could bathe. He was aware of his partner's probing look changing to relief when he gave him a small smile and jerked his head toward the bathroom.
It was working. Slowly. Surely. It always did. And the knots in his gut were beginning to ease. His soul again responding. The rising steam from the warming stew spiraled upward, bringing with it, not just the delicious aroma of meat and vegetables, but also the feeling of comfort that whispered of the long hours spent in the original cooking that rainy Sunday afternoon watching the playoffs in the company of his friend. A sharp, slightly bitter scent made his mouth water and he searched for the beer he knew the grad student had opened.
He stirred the pot carefully, gave two sharp raps of the spoon against the stainless steel rim before placing it carefully in the spoon rest. He covered the pot and turned the burner to a lower setting before grabbing the long-neck brown bottle and heading out onto the balcony. He was still standing there when he heard the bathroom door open and was aware seconds later of the warm steam permeating the room behind him, the moisture in the air warm against his skin. His head tilted slightly as he marked the progress of his roommate from the bathroom, across the floor to the kitchen to check on the stew that was now simmering nicely, the almost inaudible cling of the metal as he resettled the lid on the pot and then the soft snort as Sandburg discovered his missing beer. Bottles rattled gently against one another with the opening of the refrigerator door and there was a whispered hiss of a bottle cap being removed.
Automatically Ellison stepped back half a step from the waist high wall that surrounded the small balcony as he heard his friend approach. The damp warmth of his partner's shower carried with it the comforting scent of the man himself as Sandburg settled into the space that had been vacated for him. Both men shifted slightly, seeking
A sigh from one, an unconscious ease of tight muscles from the other as the back of Sandburg's shoulder settled lightly against the Sentinel's chest and they stood, each man drawing strength from the nearness of the other.
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.