A Year in Seattle – Week 51 – That which is

A Year In Seattle

Week Fifty-one

Thursday, June 7th, 2057 – The phone call

I called the folks today and told them that the boys were gone. It wasn’t easy for me– or them, but it was easier than trying to explain what really happened. I think they’d already prepared themselves for it– they’d had almost a year. Sometimes I think I was the only one who wasn’t willing to accept it.

I guess I’m a hopeless devotee to lost causes. But it wasn’t– not really…

Still, life goes on.

My sister, Jenny, is pregnant again, my stepmom’s finished her doctoral thesis, my mom is working on her third– Dad was trying to be understanding, but I don’t think he’ll ever understand why I came out here– why I’m staying… Case…

I still haven’t been able to bring myself to view the disk Case brought back. He hasn’t been pushing me on it– but he hasn’t really told me the rest of the story. I think he’s waiting for me, but I’m not sure if I’m really ready for it.

I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with the parts I know. I guess I’m still saying my good-byes.

Friday, June 8th, 2057 – Apologies and good-byes.

I forgot how grueling the downtown shifts can be. Grueling, but satisfying. There’s usually some semblance of a break around mid-shift, but other than that its pretty much non-stop action. There aren’t any cat-in-tree calls here- not any trees big enough to worry about.

You have more people in a smaller area and all of them are trying to get somewhere else. It can lead to unbelievable gridlock– real motormedic territory. Working here’s been helping me with my new job as well- program coordinator.

I’ve been tracking my runs, type, areas, mean response time- time of day, pretty much everything having to do with the case. There’s nothing like working an area to know where the problem areas are- and where you should position your people for the best coverage. I’ve also realized the need to rotate people between ‘zones’ so they don’t burn out.

I’m not sure if I’m happy or not with the title, it comes with a lot of responsibilities. It’s also one step closer to being a desk jockey- and I’m just not cut out for that. Still, it means I have to learn the entire Seattle area and see to it that we’ve got everything covered. I think the work is something I really need right now.

A sense of purpose, direction. I’ve been going too long without one. When I’m working- everything establishes its own sort of order. You remember that life happens how it’s going to happen, no matter what you planned. But it’s not something that should rule my life- I’ve never really thought about what I want. The job isn’t just a job, I’ve known that but I’ve never really thought of things outside the job- other than finding the boys. And now… I don’t know anymore.

I’ve been avoiding the disk from the boys all week, telling myself that I need to concentrate on the job, but that was just an excuse. I think I’m afraid, but I couldn’t tell you what I’m afraid of- accepting that things are the way they are? I don’t know.

When I got home, Case had dinner waiting for me. He could tell I was ready.

Sometimes it scares me- being that close to another human being. I mean I know that this is what I wanted but… it happened when I wasn’t looking for it. I don’t think I’d have made it through this year without Case- let alone Cusco.

Part of me is jealous- he knows what happened with the boys, I don’t. But to be fair that’s my doing. He stayed with me when I viewed the disk. I was fairly sure he knew what was on it.

Andy gave me a timeline of what had happened, messages from the others, apologies, and good-byes.

Matt had been running in the shadows for almost four years before Alan and then Andy came out. Alan started off at the university as a teaching assistant- but soon Matt’s lifestyle had become his. They loved the adrenalin rush- the chance to pit their skills against others.

It went from a job to a way of life. They were good and made a decent enough living- but then, almost three years ago they’d taken a job against AZT- and that was the beginning of the end of their careers.

They never mentioned the specifics of the job- only that it had brought unwanted attention. AZT sent a team out after them- Raz’s son was on the first team.

They managed to catch Alan- to begin Ninancoro’s ritual. Raz had been a part of that too. When he ‘escaped’, his life had changed. He now understood what had to be done- and so he’d begun researching and combating blood magic.

They began a campaign against AZT. They’d made enough money to back their private runs, and garnered enough information to pay for the expenses- but it was only a matter of time…

Matt apologized for using me- but he knew I’d come. He was the one who’d arranged the clues. Alan and Andy- they didn’t want to endanger me, but Matt pointed out that I’d be there whether they wanted me or not. The plan was to protect me from AZT, while keeping me as their wild card.

They each tried to explain why things had to be the way they were, and what it really came down to was the fact that they couldn’t come back- and I couldn’t leave. I’ve put down roots in Seattle and I have a respectable job. Something they know better than to ask me to give up. I’ve always been drawn to daring men- I think in some way… I was looking for someone like my brothers, and that’s exactly what I got- more brothers. Until Case.

Case watched me, just being there for me as viewed the messages and information the boys had sent. He knew what was there already- he’d been there when they made it.

I sat there a long time- puzzling over the messages, what they said and didn’t say. Finally, I nodded. It was time to move on- again.

The Condo is mine- everything in it. The only weird thing was Alan’s request that I wait a few months before I make any final decisions about the place. I wonder what he’s expecting…

Saturday, June 9th, 2057 – Settling in.

Case and I spent the day just talking about what happened in Cusco- and after something we’d been avoiding. It was hard for me- to give up after all this time. I know it’s not really giving up, but I can’t help but feel like I should have been able to do something about all of this.

There’s nothing I can do, and that’s the hardest thing to accept. Case gave me as much detail as he could, but a lot of it was classified. The boys may have been following a criminal lifestyle- but they were working for the law at times.

I like to think they’d made a difference, but it seems all too often their cause was money. Case did what he could to make it easier on me- but there’s so much we need to discuss. When we were making plans for Cusco, we blatantly avoided anything else.

Now- now its over and its time to think about the future. There were practical things to consider- like housing and more complex, intangible plans: like family…

I know Case loves kids- I’ve seen him with Ethan. I know he’d like more, but I also know that’s something for down the road. With me pulling fourteen-hour shifts and Case pulling protection duty- it’s just not the right time.

Then again- when is the right time?

I don’t want to leave behind regrets- a condo full of half-fulfilled dreams…

Case took me furniture shopping- trying to make his place ours. It was a sweet gesture- but it doesn’t matter to me. We’re together, the rest is just dressing.

Sunday, June 10th, 2057 – Stability

Church and Sunday brunch: it’s amazing how something so simple and consistent can lend stability to otherwise chaotic lives. The world has never been a predictable thing- but when you add my job and Case’s to it, you know enough to predict mayhem and destruction. The good thing is- we’re used to the instability. If we weren’t, we’d be behind desks somewhere. Behind them- or under them.

Knowing that the other one is there adds another anchor, something to see you through the chaos and bring you home.

We were sitting reading the comics when a call came in. It was for Case. I could tell from his expression it wasn’t something he wanted. He’s been called in for protective duty– until Saturday. He was trying to apologize… I just shook my head.

Let’s face it, on my current shifts… I come home, grunt something that might be construed as “I love you,” eat, and go to sleep. I told him as much and he just laughed.

“Even so,” he told me. “You’re better company than some mafia enforcer turned State’s Witness.”

“Thanks… I think.”

That got us both laughing. “I’ll see you Friday,” he promised.

I nodded. “You just be careful.”

“Me!?” The look he gave me was priceless. “I’m not the one racing around on a motorcycle dodging commuters every day.”

“I’m careful.”

“Jess- I’ve seen the way those people drive. I’ve faced trained hit men, and let me tell you, nothing scares me more than people reading the daily news on their dashboard… while they’re applying makeup.”

“Oh- like people shooting at you is so much better,” I teased.

“Hey, at least they’re concentrating on what they do. They’re professionals. The people in traffic are rank amateurs– unpredictable at best!”

Sad but true- but it’s the world we live in.

Monday, June 11th, 2057 – Starting over- again.

By the time I got up, this morning Case was gone. I kicked around a little before sitting down and trying to put the order back into my life. I had a lot to think about.

I’d left a lot of things in storage in Baltimore: the things that were too big to move, the things I wouldn’t need over the course of a year. The question of going back has already been answered: I belong here now.

The things I left behind- my valued treasures seemed trivial now. I think out of everything I left behind the only things I wish I’d brought with me was my Skipjack’s hat- minor league hockey team from a very long time ago. That’s it. They brick-a-brack and dust collectors, I really didn’t have need of them.

I called Jenny and asked her to go through the stuff, send me any pictures, keep what she thinks she or the kids can use- sell the rest. She was sort of surprised, but not really. She asked me how I was doing.

I could feel the hesitation in her voice- the distance between us. It wasn’t coast to coast- it was years- a lifetime worth of years. We’ve agreed to keep in touch, but we’re still pretty much strangers. We’ll see how it goes.

I went back to Lynwood, had breakfast at the diner and visited with some of the folks before heading over to the clinic. I was surprised to see Mario manning the front desk. He smiled.

“Welcome back!” he called to me. It was like coming home. It was then I realized that that was exactly what it was. Trina is more my sister than Jenny, but I’ve finally realized- I can’t go back and undo what happened- but I can move forward and try to claim what we’ve lost.

It’s not disloyalty to the boys, it’s not giving up, just growing up. I guess its never to late to begin again.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2057 – In the heat of it

The big call of the day was a five-alarm fire at one of the office buildings downtown. We were the third station called in, along with units from Tacoma and Fort Lewis. Listening to the radio on the way over we knew it was bad. Most of the people had been evacuated from the lower floors, and those caught above the fire were being airlifted out from the helipad.

The motor medics were the first to arrive after the second call went out. We broke into teams of four and headed into the inferno.

It was like old home week. Ray, Smiley, Emmory and I caught a ride to the top of the building on one of the helicopters.

While the firefighters did their thing, we did ours- going through the building floor by floor working on getting people out. IR, thermo, sonar, we had it all- and we needed it.

The hot zone was between the 20th and 24th floors. The fire teams saturated 19 and 25 with foam while we worked our way through the fire. It was intense. We were wearing thermo-cooled suits, walking through a blast furnace.

None of us had any doubt that what we were doing was insane. Insane, but worthwhile. We found three people on 23 and another 5 on 21. There were others- but we were too late for them.

We lost four, but we saved eight. From the looks of things, the four fatalities, – shouldn’t even have been there.

I read the reports from the fire investigators. — They’ve declared it arson. Seems the four dead had snuck into the building. They’d disconnected the security systems- and with them the fire sensors.

Almost poetic if you’re into that. I wonder if they realized what was going to happen. I wonder if anyone else saw the eyes in the fire. It’s really not my business. I think- at least for now, it’s best I don’t mention it. Pretend that everything is normal…

Wednesday, June 13th, 2057 – Distractions

Maybe it was Case’s warning- maybe it was just life, but as I was responding to a call, I saw no less than five people applying makeup as they inched their way through traffic. One of them, while applying eyeliner, tried to change lanes through me.

There I am on a fire-engine red bike with flashing red and white lights trying to get through, and she’s upset that I ignored her turn signal. Never mind the fact that I was next to her when she tried to zip into me- or the fact that I had that annoying siren going… no- I was being a rolling road hazard.

I had to split lanes, weave in and around bumper to bumper traffic to get to a three car pile up.

I was finishing up when traffic started moving again. Wouldn’t you know it- Miss Eyeliner stopped and demanded that one of the officers on scene arrest me for reckless driving.

From the way she looked at me, you’d think I’d caused the accident. Maybe that’s what she believed, I don’t know. I do know that I don’t care.

I know that I’m supposed to care; that people’s perception of the program is important, but some people are just clue resistant- people like Miss Eyeliner.

Its almost funny: I’ve survived so much over the last year and I’m almost taken out by an escapee from the clue factory.

I stopped by the arcade and checked in on the new class. It’s going well. I had to laugh when Ray handed me a copy of “Seattle Weekly.” They had an article of yesterday’s fire. I can’t remember the title of the article- but the subheading said something about, “Satan’s face seen in the blaze.”

The picture had obviously been airbrushed, but when I looked beyond the artist’s additions- I swear I saw those eyes again.

Copyright 2000 M.T. Decker

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