Blair is lost ~ Can Jim find him and bring him home for Christmas?
Written for The Jim and Blair Christmas Song Challenge 2000.
always, for Aly and Amy.
tale takes place after "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg."
practice no established faith, but I believe that no one can honor any god or
goddess more than by honoring the living things that are regarded as their
creations. It is my intent to offer
that sense of spirituality in this story. I
mean no disrespect or endorsement of any particular faith.
thought of this tale last night and wrote it in haste this morning, wanting to
respond to Aly's challenge before my holiday obligations to my family draw me
away from the computer for the rest of the holiday. It has not been beta'd.
Please forgive any grievous typos or other errors.
thanks and apologies to Pet Fly and the songwriters listed at the end of this
story, and proceeding under the assumption that forgiveness is easier to ask
than permission ...
Jim and Blair Christmas Song Challenge -
mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a Jim and Blair Christmas
snippet or story using as many song lyrics from popular Christmas songs as you
be home for Christmas
Eve will find me
BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS ~ Kim Gannon and Walter Kent
blinked hard in the falling snow and stared at the figure plowing its way toward
him. The voice was familiar....
are you doing here?"
partner's on that bus. Talk to
cracked on the big man's mustache as he frowned. "Damn. I'm
sorry, Jim, but it's not good news. It
went off the road on this side of God's Shoulder, ten feet down an embankment.
The driver managed to call in that there were injuries and a couple of
fatalities before his radio went dead. We're
taking the Tonka toys up." He
gestured over his shoulder through the snow at the motley caravan ... a yellow
hulk of steel with a plow blade as tall as Jim shining faintly through the white
haze, a huge salt truck right behind it, a hook and ladder rig, a couple of
State Police cars and three ambulances. And
the Coroner's truck. Emergency
personnel in bright orange coveralls were fitting chains to the tires of the
... I want to ride along."
Jim, can't do it. No room.
We need certified people in every seat."
got the training, Jackson."
man, but you're not paper legit."
I'll follow you in my truck." He
tossed his head over his shoulder and indicated the blue and white Ford pickup
parked at the edge of the staging area. The
hood and windshield were already inches deep in wet snow.
Jim," sighed Jackson, "you won't get a mile up the road in that heap,
and you know it."
got to get up there, JT. It's
Taylor frowned, and Jim could see old times flashing behind his eyes, old debts
being remembered. Jim threw his
pride away. "Jackson," he
said, all the need and urgency and fear in him blatant in his voice.
right." Taylor dug in his
pocket and pulled out a key ring. "Take
my truck. The black Suburban over
there ... it's got four wheel drive, chains on the tires, and the windshield's
been treated with defrost. There's
three quarters in the main tank, and the two axillaries are full. Stay right behind the meat wagon--" apology flashed in
his dark brown eyes and he corrected, "behind the coroner, and stay out of
trouble once we get there. You find
him, you bring him back here in my truck, and leave the keys in it."
throat was tight, and he reached out with one gloved hand to squeeze Taylor's
buddy, I owe you. For Alice and
Suzi. You know that.
Good luck, Jim."
are you Christmas
is the laughter
world is changing
silver lining has a cloud, he thought.
radio didn't work, but the CD player did. "Christmas
Favorites." Just what he
Jim let it play anyway, on low, needing the sound of something in the cab of the
truck to keep him from zoning on the sound of the plow ahead, the cascade of
salt onto the icy macadam left exposed by the big blade, and the voices of the
men trying to reestablish contact with the bus radio.
He just fucking had to go, Jim thought bitterly. Naomi's never there for him, but she crooks her finger and he comes running. And now....
Blair was in a Greyhound bus that had gone off the road on God's Shoulder, the
steepest pass in the Cascade mountains, on a snowy, icy afternoon that happened
to be Christmas Eve. And Jim
Ellison had one more reason to hate Christmas.
climb down the chimney
I've grown a little leaner
black block letters burned through the snow and into his eyes and onto his
brain. Three dead on that bus, as
of two hours ago. And they'd been
an hour on the road, creeping through the blizzard, making their way slowly
toward the wreck. A lot could
happen in two hours, in a wrecked bus with no heat on a frigid Christmas Eve.
didn't believe in miracles. He'd
only encountered one real miracle in his life, and he didn't know if that
miracle was still alive.
god ... please....
I don't want a lot for Christmas
I just want him for my own
the heavy boots, his toes were cold; inside the thick skier's gloves, his
fingertips were numb. And inside
his chest his heart beat fast with fear and yet remained chilled.
The snow was blinding; the wind whirled it in wild eddies across the hood
of the big Suburban, whipped it off into the gray of late afternoon, blew it
like water across the road, and the only way that Jim could hold his course was
to keep his eyes trained on the terrible black letters stenciled onto the brown
steel doors of the vehicle ahead of him.
hands tightened on the wheel as the chains crunched on a patch of ice and
dragged the tires to the right. He
swore, feathered the brakes, heard the grinding of metal against frozen water
and concrete, and manhandled the truck back into position.
if you ever pull a stunt like this again ... I'll let you go, but not alone.
Not without me.
Christmastime; there's no need to be afraid
say a prayer to pray for the other ones
lights flashed and held bright, and Jim tapped his own brakes and slowed.
Up ahead he could see flashing red lights as vehicles pulled alongside
each other, and there, the faint glow of fading headlights tilted at a crazy
angle, shining up into the falling snow. He
brought the Suburban to a full stop and carefully turned it around so it was
facing back down the hill, cut the tires at a sharp angle facing away from the
shoulder of the road, and shut the engine down.
snow was lighter as he stepped out onto the road, and not too deep here on the
pavement where the wind had an unbroken sweep up the side of the mountain.
And he could see the bus, not completely on its side but at a steep angle
and covered with snowdrifts on the windward side.
He stayed in place for a moment and threw his hearing across the vehicles
between him and the wreck, above the chatter and the static of radios and the
uneasy purr of idling engines, listening for the only sound in the world he
wanted to hear.
there it was.
the murmur of a voice, sniffly and coughing from time to time but low and
comforting. A voice that had pulled
Jim back from dark places uncounted times.
A sound as dear to him as the heartbeat, murmuring softly.
okay, it's gonna be fine. Your
momma is gonna be fine, and soon she'll take you home.
'Course you don't know what home is yet, do you?
Well, it's the best place in the world, where people want you and need
you and welcome you back, no matter where you've been or what you've done.
And some day when you grow up you'll find someone who you can't imagine
being in the world without, and you and that person will make a home of your own
beneath that ceaseless, steady murmur, Jim could hear the cooing of a baby.
time is here
EMTs were carrying someone out on a stretcher, faceless beneath a full-body
shroud. Jim felt guiltily relieved
as he waited for them to pass and then climbed up the icy slant of steps and
into the bus. He followed that
beloved voice through the darkness all the way to the back of the vehicle,
pushing broken seats out of his way, sliding behind men crouched over injured
passengers, making his careful but urgent way toward his partner. A broken piece of metal snagged his pant leg and he bent to
release it, then straightened and caught his breath.
sat in the back of the bus, head bent and body curled around a small bundle held
securely in his arms. Jim couldn't
see his face, only his lips moving beneath the curtain of his hair, but the
flashlights of the EMTs lit his red-brown curls from beneath and glinted off the
nylon of his worn yellow jacket and bathed him in an ethereal glow.
from that vision sprang a greater revelation, of every god or goddess that human
hearts had created or discovered throughout the time of man on earth, every
spirit that had offered and inspired gentleness and nurturing and love in
creatures born to struggle and strife, every hope of peace in a brutal and
savage world. All the history of
man reaching for light in a dark world, and sharing that light with others, was
for Jim embodied in the sight of a young man cradling a newborn baby in the back
seat of a wrecked bus on Christmas Eve.
all are dreams will come to be
the soft whisper Blair's head lifted, and only then did Jim see the stained
bandage over his right temple and the dark bruise on his cheek.
But a wide grin blinded him to these things, and he reached forward and
tucked an errant curl back behind a cold-reddened ear.
is Jesus ... Jesus San Angelo. That's
his mom, Maria." He nodded his
head and only then did Jim see the young woman wrapped in a gray blanket on the
other side of the seat, a paramedic bent over her.
yours, is he, Sandburg?" Jim joked.
man, but I wish...." And he
smiled down at the baby he held. "I
helped deliver him."
Jim. I saw lots of babies born when
I was a kid ... Naomi hung with folks who believed in home births.
There was a nurse on the bus, and she asked for help, and I knew what to
do, so...." He brushed a
gloved hand across a rosy cheek. "Here he is."
us, gentlemen," said the paramedic. "We'll
take him now. Thanks, buddy ... you
did a good job." Blair nodded, leaned down and kissed the tiny forehead, and
hesitantly surrendered the bundle to the burly medic. The man eased his way past Jim and said, "You two might
want to clear out so they can get a stretcher back here for the mother."
said Jim. "Come on,
Chief," he said, reaching out to the shivering young man. "Let's go home."
will you tell me, you'll never more roam
loft was dark, lit only by the flickering images on the television.
Blair, chilled and drowsy, had been undressed and bundled into his bed by
Jim, who was worried about the runny nose, the cough, and the slight gurgle he
could hear in his friend's lungs. He
kept his ears trained on the soft snore and the ragged breathing as he sat in
the living room, not really watching the movie but not yet ready to go to bed. Somehow he wanted to cling to this moment, this odd Christmas
Eve that found him sitting alone in the dark in his undecorated loft, more moved
by Christmas spirit than he had been since a small boy.
cough ... Jim listened intently, but it lapsed into a soft snore, and he
relaxed. In the silence he heard a
thread of melody and looked up at the television. He didn't need to reach for the remote ... Sentinel hearing
brought Judy Garland's velvet voice to his ears.
yourself a merry little Christmas
yourself a merry little Christmas
smiled, and flicked the television off. He
moved quietly around the loft, checked the doors and windows, and then went to
the small room in the corner and stood still for long minutes, regarding the
still figure tangled in the bedclothes. The words of the song continued to play in his mind.
we are as in olden days
unbuttoned his shirt and draped it over the stereo cabinet, toed out of his
loafers, and unbuckled his jeans and let them drop to the floor. He crept into the room and knelt next to the futon, drew back
the sheets and comforter, and slid in behind the sleeping man.
He reached out and gently pulled him back against his chest.
The soft breathing soothed him, and as midnight brought Christmas morning
to the loft, that rhythmic breathing drew Jim along with Blair into peaceful
the years we all will be together
Need A Little Christmas
by Jerry Herman
~ 30 ~