Black And White People
By Suisan "Sue" R.
"Can this week get any worse?" I clench the steering wheel and send up a quick "Forget I said that, Lord" before pulling out of the garage to head home. This really has been a lousy week, starting off with the Ventriss/Nadine case, then Sandburg's little vanishing act, Jim's taking a dive into a bottle, then to top it off, Connor and Rafe trying to go AWOL on me. I don't need this crap. The city doesn't pay me enough to put up with a temperamental Sentinel, his overly energetic 'guide' and a department full of people willing to go to Texas to pull said guide back here.
One more day down
Everybody has those days
Where one soft sweet song's
Enough to clear my head
What in the hell? Oh, never mind. Daryl must have left his CD in there when I took him back home to Joan's last night. It's not all that bad. Music's kinda catchy, and I can understand the words. Amazing. Okay, Si, get it through your head. Connor DID ask for an extension on her leave; Rafe had called and told Brown that he was sick. I really don't believe that, but with close to a third of the force down with various bugs, it's plausible. Or it was. Until Becky Vande called to verify Rafe was working a case on a gentleman by the name of Owen Sandburg.
I pull up to a stoplight and flip on the headlights of my sedan. Since when did it become 'normal' for me to have these long-ass days? Hell, the only time I really get a chance to see the sky anymore is on my way into work or, like now, on my way home. I haven't gotten out of the office much since Ellison and Taggart, with Sandburg's help, broke open the case involving the children. Kids. Twenty-something year old punks. After instant gratification, not wanting to wait -- or work -- for what they perceived as their right. I'll be damned if MY son is going to turn out like them!
Yeah, yeah. Hold your horses, asshole. The damn light just changed.
Fall on real life
Is anybody left there sane?
If we slide on over and accept fate
Then it's bound to be a powerful thing
Accepting fate? Or just trying to accept the unavoidable? And since when did I start thinking that Jim Ellison's 'hypersenses' were normal and okay? No, wait a minute. He's not a freak; he's blessed, at least that's what my Granny would have said. Blessed. Yeah, right. A blessed pain in the ass, snarling at me like that! I wasn't the one who got shitfaced, fell in my home and had to be found by Connor. Okay, one bullet dodged from that particular direction -- Internal Affairs will NOT find out about Ellison's little stunt from me. Or any of the people in Major Crimes. Not directly at least, and they rarely act on rumors, right? Right. Keep dreaming there, Simon.
One more stop light, two more intersections, and then I'm home. Well, not really home, just the place I try to relax, catch up on whatever paperwork I had to bring away from the office with me and where I tend to sleep. It hasn't been a 'home' since my divorce.
If it's just that you're weak
Can we talk about it
It's getting so damn creepy
Just nursing this ghost of chance
The fiction, the romance
And the Technicolor dreams
Of black and white people
Black and white people. Humph, that used to describe Ellison, until Sandburg showed up, tagging along on my detective's heels. And that "thin blue line" crap? I saw right through it before it had filtered though the air of my office. I just wish that had been the truth. I'm still not used to this Sentinel business and there are times when I'm pretty sure the two who are supposed to be used to it, well, aren't. Okay, now I'm starting to talk to myself using some of Sandburg's mannerisms, and Daryl's. I'm not sure just how close Jim and Blair are, how close they have to be to get a handle on Ellison's senses, but I know this -- when Sandburg took off, a part of the Ellison I've come to like, hell, even enjoy being around, died. Drowned in a bottle of liquor.
One boy head strong
Thinks that living here's just plain
He's pushed down for hard
You can almost hear him start to sink
Drowned. Damn, he had been dead. The paramedics called it. Jim hadn't been able to hear the kid's heart beating. And I asked him, out loud, in front of witnesses, if he could hear Blair's heart. Well, Connor figured it out in Mexico, on her own, and from the speculative looks on Joel's face this week, it shouldn't be too long before he figures it out. But, damn, the kid was dead. Flatlined. Kaput. No longer a part of the real world, completely out of here. Quickly assuming room temperature. And yet *something* happened between him and Jim, and Sandburg came back. Neither of them will talk about what happened that morning; I've tried to get them to open up to me, but I'd rather pull teeth from an enraged cobra than ask Jim about *that* again.
It's a small house, postage stamp sized yard, two bedrooms, but it's all I could afford after the divorce wrecked my credit rating. The garage is barely large enough to hold my 'extra' stuff. The weight bench, lawnmower, gardening tools for the garden I never had time to put in, and the small, yet roomy, freezer for those few times I manage to get away to fish and can haul home what I catch. I park the department issued, burgundy colored Dodge Intrepid sedan in the driveway. Grabbing my briefcase, my old one from when I had been studying law in college back before I got an attack of conscience and opted for Law Enforcement, and unfold my tall frame out from behind the wheel.
Looking off to the west, I can barely see the sun as it slowly starts sinking further into Puget Sound. One more day shot to hell and the evening as well.
Puttering around in the kitchen is a great way to relieve stress, so here I stand, elbow deep in flour, working out my frustrations on what will hopefully be a fairly large loaf of Hawaiian King bread. I've got the World News Network on the tube, still trying to catch up on world events, but I'm only paying partial attention to the damn thing. Paperwork is done. The Ventriss/Nadine case goes to it's arraignment hearing next week, and I have to sign off on the various reports before turning them over to the Prosecuting Attorney's office.
"Breaking News out of Waco, Texas tonight. Details are very sketchy at the moment, but reports are that a lone gunman is holding several hostages at a truck stop in northern Waco. A few shots have been heard, but no one is talking with the local Law Enforcement officers and it's unknown at this time if anyone is hurt. The video you are about to see is unedited and we apologize for the quality…"
Waco? Another Branch Davidian go nuts? I look up at the screen in time to see the video. Sure enough, that looks like a truck stop. Look at all the rigs sitting there… "Oh shit!" That can't be, can it? Hold it. Texas, Waco -- that's about where Sandburg was supposed to be going! And there's that purple Peterbilt truck I saw on the feed when WNN showed the truck lot. Sandburg, Texas, a truck, hostage situation and trouble. It could be--
"One of the few people who was able to avoid the situation inside is this man." The video feed switches from showing the truck yard and the restaurant to a man that looks suspiciously like-- "Sir, can you tell me what happened here?"
"Hell lady, I don't know. I was pumping fuel into my rig when I heard the shots ring out. My nephew is in there, and if you don't mind, get your damn camera out of my face!" The white haired, bearded man's eyes flash towards the camera and the glimpse of denim blue is all I need to see to confirm my fears.
Bread can wait. I've got calls to make.
It takes two hours to get through to Sheriff Reginald Jose Navarro, but I'm finally talking to the man I went through the FBI's National Academy with years ago. "RJ, Simon Banks."
"Simon? Couldn't you have waited? I'm right in the middle of…"
"I know. Look, I have a police observer that might be involved in that mess, name of Sandburg."
"Sandburg?! How in the hell do you know Owen?"
"I don't. It's Blair Sandburg I'm concerned about. Owen is his uncle. They hitched up a few nights ago and, well, I don't know how to say this--"
"If your Sandburg is anything like Owen, then he's a trouble finder. Shit! Simon, stand by."
I clench the phone tightly, wondering what could have caused the normally calm Navarro to cut me off. But before my imagination can go any further--
"Simon? If you want to come down here, fine. I understand. Right now I have to go tell the DPS just who the hell is in charge here. It's a jurisdictional mess. My office, the Department of Public Safety, and the Rangers are starting to sniff around. If I can't get this resolved, and soon, it's going to get messier. Might even make that crap back in '93 look like a fucking cakewalk."
"I'll be there as soon as I can, RJ. Thanks."
I hang up the phone, pondering my next move. Do I call Ellison now? I don't know for certain that Blair's in trouble, but his uncle was on the national news saying his nephew was. And how in the hell do I get Jim and myself to Waco in time to help? Or will we just be in time to pick up the pieces? Lord, don't let anything happen to the kid; I don't want to face Naomi Sandburg with news that her only child…don't go there, Si.
Picking up the phone one more time, I call an all-too-familiar number.
He took it better than I thought he would, and by the time I've packed a few essentials and made it to the station, he and Brian Rafe are waiting for me. Why did he call Rafe? I leave my small bag in the car as I climb out to meet the two of them by the elevator. "Ellison, Rafe."
"I asked for Rafe's help, sir."
Oh? How can Brian help? "Help in what way, Jim?"
"He has a plane and is willing to fly us directly to Waco."
And why I'm just now finding out that one of my detectives has a plane? "When did you get your license, Rafe?"
"Months ago. I'm working on the next level -- rotary wing -- and should have it in about two months, sir." Would be nice to have a chopper pilot in my ranks, instead of hoping like hell that I can find a pilot when I need one. Or begging State to lend me theirs.
We ride the elevator up to the seventh floor in silence. Ellison's fuming, anger held barely in check and ready to blow at the slightest provocation. Rafe is just as silent, but not in anger, more like he's holding back on something. I shake my head and walk into the nearly deserted bullpen. At ten PM it's usually empty, but there sits Connor watching WNN. They're airing yet another segment on the Waco fiasco.
"How many people can your plane hold, with assorted gear, safely?" Where did that question come from? I don't even have a plan beyond getting a small team together to accompany me to Waco, to be there, if needed, for Sandburg.
"Six easy, depending on the total weight of the gear."
"Good. Grab Connor and sneak down to the armory, and see what you two can borrow for a few days." A plan is starting to gel in my mind, but I need some time to think about it.
The man smiles as he leaves, literally snatching Megan out of her seat and hauling her behind him. I'm left in the office with a slowly boiling Ellison. "Jim?"
"Why can't the damn psychos give him a break? He just wanted to get away from all the crap, and it still finds him. It's not fair, Simon."
What can I say to that?
And its one last round of petty conversation
You hold on boy 'cuz
You won't go down like this
Just roll on over
Lay down till it's more than you can take
Don't you dare just lay down and take this crap, Sandburg. You're much stronger than most people think you are, than I thought you were when I first met you. But you've stuck by Ellison's side through so much, don't you dare give up.
So one more day down
And everybody's changing
One more head down
Just enough to reach my head
We're ready. Rafe and Connor were able to borrow at least two high-powered rifles with scopes and enough of the Second Chance Body armor vests to cover our little posse. I'm driving us to the small airfield where Brian keeps his plane. According to him, once he makes his inspection, and files his flight plan, we can be out of here by midnight and in Waco by 6:00 AM, local time. Jumping back through two time zones will freak your mind out if you can't do equations.
Yeah if you're weak
Can we talk about it
It's getting so damn creepy
Just nursing this ghost of a chance
The fiction, the romance
And the Technicolor dreams
Of black and white people
We are black and white people
That's us, all right. Black and white people, answering a silent call for help, because that's what we swore to do. But none of us see in strictly black and white any more, we've seen too many shades of gray in our lives. And the one person responsible for us being able to see beyond the black? Well, I just hope we get there before another color is added to the mix. I'm not sure that Jim could stand to see it. I know I couldn't, and neither could Rafe or Connor.
I just hope that we get to Waco in time. I have no desire to see Ellison self-destruct.