BETWEEN DARK AND DARK

By

D.L. Witherspoon

(05-11-03)


Take your delight in momentariness,
Walk between dark and dark - a shining space
With the grave's narrowness, though not its peace.

~Robert Graves (1895 - 1985), Sick Love


"You okay?"

Blair nodded and reached for the finger of bourbon Jim handed him. "Yeah. You?"

Jim shrugged and walked over to the French doors to look outside. "Nothing new for me. Seen one massacre, seen them all."

"That true?"

"No."

Blair thought as much. What he’d seen today would always be with him, but he couldn’t imagine not reacting to the next one the same way. "They were just kids."

"The guns didn’t know that and didn’t care."

Blair sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t stick around one school long enough to get so…angry that I could do something like that."

"People get pushed, and they break. Some break more easily than others."

That was a surprise. "I didn’t think you would identify with the perps."

"Been on both sides."

"You were an athlete."

"I had a mother that abandoned her two sons."

"I had a mother that every teenage boy wanted to bang."

"Ouch. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have let her come up to my room the first time she visited."

Blair gave a tight smile. "It startled me a bit. But I think that was more about getting used to Naomi again than not trusting what the two of you were doing." He sipped the bitter alcohol. He’d wondered why Jim had the bottle stashed away over the sink since he’d never seen him drink. Now he knew why. It was for nights like this, days that ended like this one had.

They’d been the first ones on the scene because Jim had heard the gunshots as they were returning to the station after questioning a robbery witness. Kids had been running everywhere, and they hadn’t been able to go against the flow to get into the school to stop the three boys who’d been bullied by the football team and decided to take a page, no, frames from one of their favorite video games, and annihilate everything that moved. By the time they’d made it to the hallways, the hallways were decorated in red and dying.

"I’m glad I don’t have kids."

"You’re still young, Chief."

"And getting older and wiser everyday. No kids."

"Yours don’t have to be like those."

"The ones doing the shooting or the ones doing the dying?"

"Both."

"I don’t see you with any little Jims."

"Some men aren’t cut out to be fathers."

"You probably wouldn’t do too bad."

"It’s the ‘probably’ part I worry about."

"Think we’d see it differently if we’d had a stable, two-parent home?"

"Two of those boys had just that."

"Oh, yeah." Blair threw back the rest of the bourbon, wincing at the burn. "Life sucks."

"But it goes on, Chief. It always does."

"You’re supposed to say something enlightening and uplifting."

"Tomorrow."

He wasn’t sure whether Jim meant he’d say something enlightening and uplifting tomorrow or "tomorrow” was the sentiment he’d come up with. Either way, it worked for him. "Gonna turn in. You?"

"In a bit."

Blair nodded and turned toward his room. "Hey, if I have a nightmare--"

"I’ll hear you."

"And if you have a nightmare?"

"That requires sleep."

He started to comment, but then just continued to his room. Jim had his rituals, and they’d gotten him this far. Who was he to question what he didn’t know and couldn’t have possibly understood until today? "’Night, Jim."

"’Night, Chief."

The alcohol was a warm sedative in the bottom of his stomach and as his eyes fluttered closed, Blair knew that when they opened again, it would be tomorrow. And although that wouldn’t change today, it wouldn’t be today either.

"Tomorrow," he whispered, knowing his partner heard him.

It was both a promise and a reminder.

THE END