A/N The usual disclaimers apply regarding me not owning anything or making any money from anything and so on.


I'm not Jewish, so if I've got anything wrong, I apologise.  Just chalk it up to artistic licence.



'cause there's really nothing left here to stop me


"What do you mean it's not working?" Saul's strident tone made Naomi's headache step up a notch.


"I'm dying here. Can't you see that?" She pulled out of his arms and went to stand by the kitchen window. She looked out, but didn't see the unkempt garden or the pretty houses with their lace curtains and carefully tended lawns across the street.


"We've only been married three months. How can you tell it's not working?" Saul took a step towards her, but she moved away.


"I… I feel stifled. I simply can't be a housewife. There's so much world to see, so many things to do."


"Then why did you agree to marry me? No one forced you to. When the shadchan* introduced us you could have said no."


Naomi's reply was silence.


"Naomi, why did you marry me?" Saul's voice was gentle and full of pain. "I know we don't love each other, yet. But, I was hoping that with time…"


Naomi's parents had despaired of their headstrong daughter. Intelligent, but stubborn, she'd not worked in school and had spent most of her time going out with friends. They turned to their Rabbi for help and he'd thought that maybe she needed a change of life and marriage might be a solution. Even though she'd only been sixteen, to their surprise she'd agreed to meet the shadchan the Rabbi recommended. They were completely amazed when she said that she'd marry Saul Cohen a slightly older, devote Jew. Little did they know that the reason she chose him was because his job as a building inspector meant he often had to travel away from home. She thought she'd finally be away from her parents and, for a lot of the time, on her own without supervision.


However, she hadn't counted on her even more devote in-laws. Every other day someone from Saul's family would just 'pop round' with cakes, books on childcare, advice on housekeeping or a recipe. It was driving Naomi mad. The little criticisms, the snide remarks voiced in sugary tones, the friendly 'advice'. Then the talk turned to the fact that she wasn't pregnant. She wasn't even seventeen she insisted and had only been married three months. She had time. She needed time to live first.


"I'm sorry," her voice broke on a sob. "I just can't." The sound of the front door slamming behind her echoed down the street.


I've always thought that I would love to live by the sea


"What's your name, pretty one?"


Naomi shielded her eyes from the bright sun as she looked up. All she could see was a dark outline against the brightness.


"Oh, sorry." The shadow moved and sat down beside her on the sand. It turned out to be a youngish man with the wildest clothes the woman had ever seen: bright colours, clashing patterns, bead necklaces… And his hair was long and held back with a leather thong that crossed his forehead. "My name's Astral Consciousness."


"What?" She knew she sounded rude, but what sort of name was that?


"Astral Consciousness, but most people call me Az."


"Oh." She didn't quite know how to deal with this exotic creature.


"And what's your name? Goddess of the Sea? Phoenix, because of your red hair? Bright Sun, because you're like so like the sun's rays? No, no, I know. Blue Sky because of your eyes."


Naomi giggled. "It's Naomi."


"But that name does nothing to describe your inner or outer beauty. I shall call you Butterfly. No, Pretty Butterfly." He lay back and lit a strange looking cigarette. The pungent smoke tickled Naomi's nose. "Did the balmy winds of the Pacific bring you here to California or were you born in this peaceful paradise?"


"Um, no. I'm from Jetmore, Kansas State." She didn't explain that rather than arriving on the winds she'd run away from her new husband and family leaving a short note saying that she wouldn't be back and asking them not to look for her.


"You here to join up with your liberated sisters and brothers to fight against oppression and stop the war?"


"Um, no. I work in a book shop downtown."


Astral, or whatever his name was sat up abruptly. "Don't you care about what our government's doing to our cousins across the water in our name? Laos, Korea, Vietnam…"


"I just wanted to live by the sea. I'd never seen the sea before." Naomi felt small and stupid in the face of this man's passion. She didn't take much notice of current affairs.


"Listen, sister, you can't live your life in ignorance. We ARE the people of the planet and we owe it to humanity to free ourselves and others from the shackles of organised tyranny!"


"Oh," was all that Naomi could say in the face of this declaration.


He took one of her small hands in his and stared into her blue eyes. "Do you want to learn? Do you think that the planet should be saved? Are you a part of humanity?"


She nodded, mesmerised.


"Well, come and meet my brothers and sisters. We're out at Johnson's farm. D'you know it?"


She nodded again.


"Will you come?" He could read the hesitation in her eyes and bent to kiss her on the lips. Eventually, drawing back he cupped her face with both his hands making the smoke from his strange cigarette drift past her nose. He stared into her eyes. "Well, my Pretty Butterfly, see you there?"


Naomi, still reeling from the first passionate kiss she'd ever experienced, smiled.


I apologise that once again I'm not in love


"You're just like all the others!" Astral's voice spat at her, but it didn't stop her cramming the last of her clothes into her canvas tope. "You said you loved me!"


Pretty Butterfly sighed, took another long puff of her spliff and felt the smoke calm her. She turned to look at the agitated man. "Listen, Az, I do love you, really. But I also love Moonjava, Marley and Patches. And Faith and Wildwind…"


"But I thought you…"


I'm very grateful to you," Naomi spoke over his protests. She laid a hand on his right cheek. "You showed me this life and how important it is to love everyone and what we can do to change the world. But now my purpose is to take the message to others." She sat back down on the mattress and closed her bag.


"You mean take New Sage's message," he spat.


"New Sage is showing me a new way to enlightenment." She ignored the man's snort. "I thought you'd be pleased for me."


"I just… just… I wanted…"


"Please, Az. You taught me that love is too beautiful not to share. Our destinies are taking different paths." She stood up and pulled the bag onto one slim shoulder. "We'll meet again. I'm sure."


She gently kissed his lips and then walked out of his life in a swirl of bright coloured fabrics until all that was left was the faint smell of patchouli.


While my heart is a shield and I won't let it down


"You… you're married?" Naomi winced at how childish her voice sounded.


"What difference does it make? You believe in free love, don't you?"


"With like-minded people."


"I'm like-minded. I played by the rules of this place; what few there are."


"But, but what about your wife?"


"She's off playing being corporate. Keeps me in the manner I've become accustomed to." He glanced over at the pretty young woman hovering in his door way. He'd been hanging out in Haight Ashbury with some friends when they'd spotted the group of hippies walking down the street in bare feet singing some protest song. His friends had laughed and threw out some disparaging remarks. Gary, however, had spotted the beautiful redhead with a painted butterfly on her right cheek.


Having become somewhat jaded with the playboy lifestyle that his wife's money provided him, he was looking for something different. When the butterfly turned and smiled at him he knew he'd found it. It didn't take him long to buy the clothes, grow his hair, call himself Black Bee and integrate himself into the 'Free Desire' commune just outside 'Frisco. He felt like a child let loose in a sweet shop with Pretty Butterfly being the box of expensive chocolates. The fact that he was more than twenty years her senior made the tasting all that much sweeter.


But all good things have to come to an end and his wife was making sounds that maybe she was fed up of paying for his profligate lifestyle. So, he'd shaved, washed and changed his clothes. Pretty Butterfly had entered his room as he was sliding his wedding ring back on his finger. To say that she was disappointed and upset was an understatement.


"But aren't you…? Don't you want to help the oppressed?"


"Oh, for Pete's sake." He picked up an expensive looking leather wallet from the orange crate he'd been using as a bedside table. "Without those 'oppressed'," he made quote marks with his fingers, "people, America wouldn't be as powerful as it is and we'd still be living in covered wagons."


"And Vietnam and…"


"Bomb the lot of them. They deserve it." He walked towards her and she pressed herself back against the wall. Leaning over he gently kissed her forehead ignoring her pained gasp. "But you were worth having to share the bathroom and live with so many unwashed, flaky people. Bye." And with that he strode out of the building.


Naomi couldn't hold back the tears and she sank down to the floor. Something broke inside her.


To travel the world alone and live more simply


Naomi left the commune and Pretty Butterfly behind as she went out into the real world searching for the thing that she thought she'd found with the free-loving peacemakers. Wanting to get away from the States she travelled to Europe fortunately finding enough work to pay her way. It was on a farm just outside Reading in the south of England that she realised that she'd missed an undetermined number of periods. Plumping down on a bale of hay she mentally counted back. Oh, God, she was pregnant! But what about morning sickness? Swollen breasts? She put her hand on her stomach. Was it a little rounder than usual?




Her head went up. Susan, the mother of the two boys she was looking after was calling her.


"Naomi, where are you?"


The voice came closer and the young American girl simply sat there strangely lethargic. She knew she should answer or walk out of the barn, but she couldn't move. A shadow filled the doorway.


"Oh, there you are. I… Are you all right? Naomi? You've been crying."


Naomi put her hand up in surprise and felt the tears on her face. "I… I just…"


The kind British woman walked over and put an arm round the shaking girl. "Sh, sh. It's all right. Whatever's the problem we'll sort it out, all right?"


But if my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy


Susan had been absolutely fantastic once she'd spilt the beans. Taking charge in her no-nonsense way, she'd arranged doctor's visits, midwife appointments and, Naomi had no idea how, somehow got her booked into this hospital under an assumed name. When the young American had questioned why this was necessary, Susan's explanation was frank.


"They'll take your baby away and put you in a home for wayward girls if they find out you're seventeen and unwed. Is that what you want?"


Naomi had numbly shaken her head and fallen in with Susan's plans. The only experience of childbirth she'd had, had been in books and helping out at a couple of births at the communes. The young women there had seemed to have little problem with pain, but now she suspected it was because they'd been mostly stoned. She jumped when a sharp voice intruded into her thoughts.


"For goodness sake! You need to take care of your son yourself." The nurse looked at the young woman who was curled up in bed staring at nothing. "Mrs Goldberg, I know the birth was difficult, but really you haven't even looked at the baby for two days!"


Naomi slowly turned and raised her eyes to the nurse in her bright white, stiff uniform as she pushed through the curtains surrounding her bed. She was exhausted and hurting in places she didn't want to think about. And the baby! She'd been too tired and weak to hold the red-faced, screaming bundle in her arms for long after the birth. Now, she was stuck in this ward with all these women cooing and gushing over their babies and it was driving her crazy. She needed to escape, to get away.


Something moved in the nurse's arms and she shuddered.


"Your son's hungry!" The thin woman thrust the bundle into Naomi's arms. "Why haven't you named him yet?" The nurse sighed in exasperation. She didn't have time to be mollycoddling this spoilt American whose husband was strangely absent. She suspected that there was no husband, but kept her thoughts to herself. She sighed again as the young mother held her baby as if it was a bomb set to go off. Bending down she adjusted the woman's arms and undid the front of her nightgown.


"Like this." She placed Naomi's hand on the back of the baby's head and pushed it towards an exposed breast.


Naomi flinched as the baby greedily latched on and started sucking.


"Okay, I'll leave you to it," said the nurse after a minute. "I'll be back in a few to see how you're getting on." With that, she swished through the curtains leaving her patient alone with her son.


Thoughts of giving him up for adoption swam through her head as she looked down at the squirming figure in distaste. A long breath escaped her lips and she searched for something to occupy her thoughts. She glanced down. She'd not really looked at her baby before and despite everything, curiosity stirred something in her. With one finger she pushed back the blanket that was covering the baby's head and breathed in sharply. Dark curls with a hint of red in them peaked out. As she pushed the blanket back further they sprang up and glistened in the light above the bed.


Hearing her gasp, the baby opened his lids and gazed unfocussed at the blur above him. Naomi was completely mesmerised. Her son's eyes were a deep, rich blue and appeared to be filled with all the wisdom of the ages.


"Hello, ktantan*," she murmured. A tiny hand with perfect tiny nails waved as if in greeting. Almost reverently, she held out a finger and then smiled when it was grasped strongly. "My, you are a strong one." The blue eyes seemed to twinkle up at her. Naomi took in a deep breath and felt something soothe her spirit.


'cause nothing I have is truly mine


"Thank you for everything." Naomi pulled Susan into a hug. "I promise to pay you back for…"


"Stop it," the older woman chastised gently. "Think of it as a gift for Blair."


"But at least the ticket," Naomi protested as she stood back.


"If you can later, when you're on your feet, all right. But don't put yourself out or deprive Blair of anything."


"Last call for British Airways flight BA342 to Dallas leaving from gate 16. Last call…"


"Go, or you'll miss the flight." Susan pulled her into a hug again and then bent to place a kiss on the bundle strapped to Naomi's front. "And take care of him." Her voice turned husky and she swallowed.


"I will." The young American woman felt her eyes starting to fill. "And again, thank…"




With one backward glance Naomi picked up her bag and strode towards the gate. As she settled herself into her airplane seat she glanced down at her son.


"It's just us, now, Sweetie. Ready to see the world?"


Blue eyes gazed up at her and a smile graced the full lips.



* shadchan – matchmaker

* ktantan – little one



Life for Rent by Dido


I haven't ever really found a place that I call home

I never stick around quite long enough to make it

I apologise that once again I'm not in love

But it's not as if I mind that your heart ain't exactly breaking


It's just a thought, only a thought

But if my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy

Well I deserve nothing more than I get

'cause nothing I have is truly mine


I've always thought that I would love to live by the sea

To travel the world alone and live more simply

I have no idea what's happened to that dream

'cause there's really nothing left here to stop me

It's just a thought, only a thought


But if my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy

Well I deserve nothing more than I get

'cause nothing I have is truly mine


While my heart is a shield and I won't let it down

While I am so afraid to fail so I won't even try

Well how can I say I'm alive?


But if my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy

Well I deserve nothing more than I get

'cause nothing I have is truly mine



starfishyeti: Frost on fallen leaves (pic#3061706)
Prequel to Make It All Okay and contains major spoilers for it.

As usual I have no claim to the Sentinel or its characters nor to the Murray Head song Don’t Forget Him Now. This was written for pleasure and not for monetary gain.

Jim Ellison swept in to the Major Crimes’ bull pen like a conquering general followed by Chief Warren, Mayor Smithson, the captain of Vice, two who were obviously Feds and numerous hanger ons. Everyone stopped what they were doing to stare and Banks came out of his office a big smile on his face. He strode towards his detective and grabbed his upper arms.
“Well done,” he almost gushed.
Warren and Smithson both clapped Jim on the shoulders with satisfied grins on their faces.
“Banks, your man did really good,” the Chief said. He turned to the the large crowd that had filled the room. “Listen, everyone. We’re here to congratulate Detective Ellison here, for almost single handedly bringing down a child pornography ring that stretched across six states and involved hundreds of children.”
“We’d been working on this case for more than two years and had only managed to net small players,” explained one of the FBI agents. “We’d heard that the main man was somewhere here in Cascade and approached Chief Warren to see what plan we could come up to winkle him out.”
“And our plan was Detective Ellison,” beamed Warren. “He managed to infiltrate the ring and this morning we arrested Anthony Cortizzi and his gang at their head quarters.”
“So, obviously the way that Ellison’s been behaving these last two months has all been part of an undercover operation,” Banks said, “and his suspension was a ruse to get him noticed by the right people.”
“Oh, good,” called out H, “that means we can take down the storm warning system?”
Everyone laughed and moved towards Jim to congratulate him and the room was filled with happy noise. Blair came through the doors with a pile of files in his arms and had to stop due to the press of people.
“What’s going on?” He asked Detective Peters who was standing next to him just in front of the doors.
“Like you don’t know,” grumbled the man good-naturedly.
“No, I don’t know.”
Peters looked at him frowning. “You didn’t know that Ellison was undercover and had infiltrated a kiddie porn ring?”
“No,” Blair’s answer was quiet and he looked thoughtfully at his former partner whom he could see surrounded by an adoring public. Carefully, he edged round the boisterous crowd and dumped the files on his desk.
“Okay, okay,” the Mayor’s voice rang above the noise and everyone quieted. “A celebratory buffet has been laid on in the conference room and everyone from Vice and Major Crimes, including support staff, are invited.”
A small cheer went up and people started pouring out of the doors. Warren put his arm round Jim’s shoulders to lead him out of the room, but the detective turned and looked around himself. He found what he was searching for when he spotted the curly head bent over some files. He stared for a moment noting how the curls now brushed the shoulders having grown quickly from the mandatory academy haircut. He’d not seen his partner since his pseudo suspension nearly a month previously. Feeling someone staring at him, Blair looked up and for a moment blue locked onto blue. The senior detective was shocked to see the blank expression and the dark circles under the eyes.
He took a step forward, but was halted by the Mayor’s hand on his arm. For a moment he resisted. However, the other man said something to him and reluctantly he moved towards the exit. Just before passing through the doors he turned once again to call out to Blair. Unfortunately though, Sandburg had again bent his head to his files. He’d speak to him later once this circus had left. He needed to know that their friendship was still strong.
The younger man didn’t move and tried to bring his tumultuous thoughts under control. Jim had been undercover! So, all that time he’d been cold and distant with him it had all been part of a plan. When he’d calmly told him it was time for him to move out of the loft he’d been acting. When he’d made fun of him in front of the other detectives he’d been playing a part. Hadn’t he? Blair ran a trembling hand through his hair.
He’d been undercover and hadn’t told him. Obviously, Jim still didn’t trust him.
After the mess with the dissertation he’d accepted the offer of a detective’s badge and had worked hard at the academy. It hadn’t been easy. Many of the cadets and some of the instructors had resented his presence there. But Blair had endured thinking that Jim really wanted him as a partner and Major Crimes wanted him as one of their own. All his life he’d wanted to belong somewhere. He and his mother had moved around so much he’d never really been accepted in the communities where they’d stayed. He’d started at Rainier as a brash sixteen year old and therefore had been out of step with his peers. And anyway, he knew that the university had merely been a stepping stone to his future. He’d made some good friends there, some of whom had stuck by him after his press conference, but people like Chancellor Edwards had made sure that he’d never be part of ‘the in crowd’.
So, he’d thrown himself into being a detective and Jim’s partner. He ignored the subtle and not so subtle actions by police officers who couldn’t understand how a fraud could be one of them. He dealt with the constraints placed upon him by IA and the DA’s office. He tried to be resourceful with his money while paying back his student loans and some of the grants the university insisted he reimburse. He’d done all that because he believed that finally he belonged somewhere.
And then six months into his stint as a detective Jim had started snapping at him and criticising him for small errors, the way he dressed, his ideas, his beliefs, his lack of money... This opened the door to more open insults from personnel who’d taken his press conference at face value. Files would go missing, his lunch would disappear from the break room and his car tyres would mysteriously go flat on a regular basis. Then in the space of one week Jim had been suspended, Blair had been assigned a new partner and Jim had asked his room-mate to move out. Reeling from the shock, depressed, broke and realising that perhaps he’d made a terrible mistake in becoming a detective, Blair had moved his few possessions to a small one-roomed hole in a tenement in a less than salubrious part of town.
“Hey, Burger.”
He jerked as the hated nickname broke into his thoughts. Daniels was a fresh faced detective who’d come from homicide when Ellison had been suspended. He’d latched onto Blair despite being partnered with another detective saying newbies should stick together. He watched as the other man rummaged for something in his desk.
“Good party isn’t it? You must be really proud of Ellison, no?”
Blair mumbled something and looked down at his files not wanting to look into Daniels’ smiling face. A shadow fell over him.
“You can give these to him now.”
He looked up to see the other detective holding out a file to him.
“Um, What is it?”
Daniels dropped the file on his desk and started towards the doors. “Copies of the notes Ellison left for the DA in my locker at the gym. I was told to hold on to them until the op was over. Anyway, I’ve got to go. See you Monday.” With that he swung out of the doors leaving Sandburg contemplating the ruin of his life.
With shaking fingers he opened the file and with blurring eyes examined the papers within. Lists of banks and account numbers, names and addresses written out in Jim’s meticulous handwriting filled his sight. For a moment he simply sat there his mind a blank. In a daze he stood up and took his jacket from the back of his chair. Slipping it on, he turned off his computer and gazed around the bullpen. He felt a terrible weight pressing on his chest making it hard for him to breathe. He had to get out of there. Feeling too agitated to wait for the lift he jogged down the stairs to the underground garage. Before he had time to realise what he was doing he was in his car parked outside his building.
For a moment he laid his head on the steering wheel taking in great gasps of air. Daniels had known Jim was undercover. Not him. Not his so-called partner and friend. Slowly, he got his breathing under control and eased himself out of the vehicle. He shivered in the cold April wind and, like an old man, shuffled towards the building. Suddenly, something was thrown over his head and hands roughly grabbed him holding his arms to his sides. The smell of grease and cigarette smoke pervaded the entrance hall as he was hustled along the corridor to his ground floor flat. As they entered an arm snaked round his neck pulling his head back and a voice hissed into his ear.
“Shout and I’ll blow your brains out.” The material covering his head was pulled off and Blair blinked. The cold feel of a gun barrel pressing against the base of his skull kept him quiet and still.
A figure with a woollen cap pulled low, wearing a pair of dark glasses and a scarf tied over his lower face came from the right and punched him hard in the stomach. Blair whooped trying to catch his breath. He just wanted to curl up into his stomach, but the arm across his throat held him upright. Suddenly, his head snapped to the left as a fist smashed into his right cheek and immediately after his stomach was pummelled again. The arm released him and he crumpled to to the floor. Desperately, he tried to get air into his struggling lungs. Unfortunately, he was given no respite as a boot kicked him in the lower back and his agonised scream came out as a weak croak.
He then felt a hand in his hair and his head was tilted up. Squinting through the involuntary tears leaking from his eyes he could see three hazy, masked figures looming over him.
“You really are unlucky, aren’t you?” One of them hissed at him. “You weren’t supposed to be here. All we were going to do was trash your apartment. Leave you a message that even you couldn’t ignore. Well, now our message’s going to be VERY personal.”
“Wha...?” Blair tried to make sense of what was happening. His head was shaken violently as another punch landed on his already bruised cheek. He felt the skin split open and a trail of blood ran down his face to drip off his chin.
“Shut up! All you need to do is listen. Cascade PD doesn’t need self-confessed frauds dragging its name into the mud. However you got to be detective, I’ll never know. You took the place of someone far more deserving than you. We’ve tried to show you that you’re not wanted and not needed. MC doesn’t need or want you and Ellison has finally showed you that he doesn’t need or want you. So, don’t you think you should take the hint and leave?”
“No!” Blair tried to speak, but fell silent as a fist was raised to his face. He wanted to tell them that Jim had been undercover. That it had all been an act and even if his former partner didn’t trust him, surely he didn’t hate him?
“This is your final warning.” The man nodded to the person standing behind Sandburg’s left shoulder.
Before Blair could protest his trousers were unbuttoned and pulled down his legs so they pooled around his knees. He bucked and twisted as his imagination went into overdrive. “No, no,” he pled, “you don’t have to do this. I’ll leave. I’ll go.”
“Shut it!” The man who seemed to be the only one to speak grabbed his face in two hands and looked him straight in the eye. “Don’t worry. We’re not going to rape you. We wouldn’t dirty ourselves with a Jew boy.” He dropped his hands to his captive’s shoulders and squeezed them tightly. He moved to Blair’s left and pressed his gun once more against a curly head.
Blair quieted and stared up at his adversary with wide open, tear-filled eyes. He then screamed as he felt red hot agony in his left thigh. He tried to move, tried to crawl away, but hands were holding him down and stopping him from moving; stopped him from escaping from the pain that just went on and on. His arms flailed about trying to defend himself. And all the while the voice went on spewing out its vitriolic hate. Finally it stopped and he looked down at the bloody mess that was his leg. He squinted and through the blood he could make out the word ‘liar’ carved into his flesh. His face was again twisted so he was looking into cold eyes.
Blair then felt a tug in his hair and something light fell over his face. Looking down he saw his curls float to the floor. Almost in slow motion he heard a buzzing and even more hair fell as his electric shaver skimmed over his skull. It seemed to take for ever and it seemed to take just an instant and then there was silence.
“Now, we don’t want you to die. We want this as a permanent reminder of how you fucked up Ellison’s life. Of how you’re nothing more than a kike fraud and don’t deserve to be a cop let alone a detective.” Slowly, the speaker tipped over the bottle he was holding in his hand and Blair smelt the distinctive tang of vodka. The contents splashed onto his bloody thigh and he screamed. And then thankfully everything went black.


Consciousness slowly crept up on Blair until he could feel the agony in his thigh and his aching body. He moaned and lifted his eyelids to half mast. He was sitting upright with his head back resting on something. Blearily, he tried to bring what he was seeing into focus, but failed. Confused, he rolled his head down and the steering wheel of his car came into view. His stomach suddenly spasmed and his memory came rushing back. Groaning, he wrapped his arms round his aching body and laid his forehead against the wheel. Bile rose up into his throat and pushing the car door open he fell to his knees on the road and vomited. Muscles protested and his leg burnt as he heaved again and again.
He eventually fell on to his side his chest aching and tears coursing down his cheeks. “Oh, God. Oh, God,” he sobbed. He didn’t know how long he lay there, but gradually the sobbing stopped and his trembling quieted until he could sit up and take stock of his surroundings. His old Volvo was parked on the grass verge of a deserted country road. Trees just starting to come into leaf stretched as far as the eye could see and the road disappeared into the horizon both in front and behind him. He had no idea where he was. A cold wind sprang up and blew over his head making him shiver. He lifted a shaking hand to rub over his bald skull and another sob escaped.
“Come on, Sandburg, it’s only hair,” he chided himself speaking out loud to break the brooding silence. “It’ll grow back. You’ve got more important things to worry about.” He looked down at his left leg and could see the outline of a bandage through his trousers. His stomach and face ached and he could feel where he’d been kicked in his back. Painful, yes, but unfortunately he’d had lots of experience with these sorts of injuries and he could feel there was nothing life threatening. He debated whether he should inspect his leg, but decided this wasn’t the place to do it.
The cold road was making itself felt through his clothes, so he grabbed the door and pulled himself upright. His mouth fell open as he saw the boxes and plastic bags haphazardly piled up in the back of the car. Leaning forward he pulled a bag open and saw some of his artefacts looking rather the worse for wear. A box held books and a broken mask. Another revealed bandages and antiseptic and he snorted at the thoughts behind such ‘kindness’. His attackers had really meant it when they’d said he should leave. He carefully eased himself back into the driver’s seat and spotted the keys in the ignition. At least they’d left him the means to leave quickly.
A thought bubbled up into his mind and his hand slipped under his jacket. His fingers encountered his empty holster and then dropped down to his waist and realised that his badge was also missing. Searching his pockets failed to produce his phone. He blew out a shaky breath; he had a difficult decision in front of him. If he went back to Cascade what would he be going back to? A place where he had the reputation of an academic fraud. Where he’d ruined the life of his best friend and then due to this friend’s kindness had ridden on his coat tails into the position of a detective in Major Crimes. The town where this best friend so obviously didn’t trust him and had tired of his presence.
There was no choice really. He would drive down this road and see where it took him. And if he couldn’t do it with love, he could at least detach. He turned the key in the ignition praying that the engine would start. He sighed in relief when it purred into life. The radio also came to life and he left it on in an effort to fill up the silence in his soul. Unfortunately, the words only accentuated the despair that he felt. Without taking his eyes off the road he drove towards the horizon.
“Now is the time when he needs your every support Now is the time when he needs your love Now is the time when he needs your every thought He needs help from you and heaven above Don' t forget him now

Try carrying the load that he bears It's bringing him down Carrying the burden that's on his back Try wearing the shackles That tie his feet to the ground Seeing the light when the future looks black Don' t forget him now

Help him bear the conscience That taunts his weathered mind Freedom from the snare that haunts mankind Be the light to guide him Be the shield to hide him
Show to him the self he has to find
Now is the time when he needs your every support Now is the time when he needs your love Now is the time when he needs your every thought He needs help from you and heaven above Don' t forget him now”



May 2014

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