tightened the blindfold around Jims eyes.
that? Too tight?" he asked, peering at his work.
fine and I cant see anything. Lets get this over with, Sandburg."
crossed his arms across his chest impatiently. They were in the middle of a forest,
doing a Sandburgian test on Jims senses.
Come over here." Blair took a hold of Jims arm and moved him back a
couple of steps. "OK, OK
Hold it." He positioned Jim carefully
and moved behind him. Jim could hear a scruffing sound like Sandburg was climbing
a tree and frowned.
"What are you doi-OOF!" A sudden
weight appeared on his back and two arms wrapped around his neck, along with two
legs around his waist.
Blairs voice came by his right ear. "OK, this is good." he barreled
on without waiting for a reply. "Now, I want you to tur-"
are you *doing*?" Jim interrupted, his hands automatically going to grasp
Sandburgs feet, which were hooked in front of his stomach.
remember? You said I could."
"Sandburg, Im not saying it again."
we dont have time for you to be fussy. Th-"
"Come on, Jim. Making me make three different
trips to the store to return three tubes of toothpaste?"
was your fault. What part of toothpaste dont you understand?
That tarter control stuff makes my tongue burn, and extra whitening is bad for
your teeth. I just wanted *regular*."
want the last one because it was in the wrong container!"
"I like the stand-up kind," Jim mumbled.
Blair shook his head.
"Sure, Jim. Now, can we get on with
this? The sooner you give in, the sooner we get done." Jim sighed.
just dont see the *point* of this." Sandburg happily started rambling
off the virtues of patience and exploration, and Jim suspected that somewhere
the reason for all this was buried in, but he didnt care to look for it.
started, Chief," he admitted defeat, cutting off Sandburgs flow of
"Thanks, Jim! Trust me, this is a great exercise
in endurance and self-control. Itll be better for you in the long run."
get moving, Sandburg."
"Right! All right, I want you
to walk around the forest and try to get back to the truck on your own."
it? Just find the truck?" Jim replied, a bit disdainfully.
Ill be singing the whole time."
supposed he earned that one. Blair cleared his throat dramatically.
pie honey bun!
" Jim bit back a groan and tried to dial down his sense
of hearing. However, that made it more difficult to tell where things were around
of him, and he was forced to keep it nudged up. He maneuvered around, more uncertainly
than usual, and stumbled a couple of times.
Blair was really
getting into his role in this, singing energetically. He stuck mostly to oldies,
apparently thinking those were what Jim could relate to, or knew, or something.
Jim felt a distinct satisfaction at one point when he "accidentally"
ran into the branches of a tree and Blair paused to yelp in surprise.
Chief, Chief, hang on a second," Jim suddenly stopped, interrupting Blairs
lusty rendition of "Downtown".
"No fair cheating,
man," Sandburg admonished, and started to take a deep breath.
wait, I think I hear someone in trouble." Jim cocked his head.
hushed up instantly.
"What is it?"
and a man
Shes pleading for her life
I think he
"Lets go," Blair said, hopping
down. "Whoa, whoa, Jim, one second." He grabbed the sentinels
arm and narrowly stopped him from running head-long into a tree. He quickly pulled
off the blindfold. Jim blinked against the sudden light.
way," he turned to the right and sped through the woods, gracefully dodging
trees and rocks, even leaping over a startled, waylaid squirrel at one point.
Blair followed more slowly- due to shorted legs- noting that Jim was currently
closely resembling his spirit guide.
"FREEZE! Cascade PD,
put down your weapon!" Jim had his gun out and pointed at a bearded man who
was holding a knife over a sobbing woman.
or Ill stab her!" the guy yelled back, waving his knife threateningly.
It glinted cheerfully in the sun. Blair appeared next to him, breathing hard and
taking in the scene with wide eyes. The woman was crying face down into the forest
floor, wearing a torn dress, blonde hair hiding her face.
away from the lady," Jim said lowly, menacingly, sliding a foot forward.
The man snarled and lurched toward the woman.
"I said dont
move!" he bellowed. Jim froze. Suddenly, something whizzed by his ear and
hit the rapists hand, sending the knife to the ground. In a second, Jim
was on the guy, cuffing his and reading him his rights. Blair was next to the
woman, talking to her soothingly, but making a point not to touch her.
call Simon," Jim ordered, roughly pulling the man around, out of the womans
sight as she shakily sat up, clutching the remains of her clothes to herself.
Blair nodded and retrieved the cell phone from Jims coat pocket.
me what went on here," Simon said later as they hauled away the rapist. The
woman was wrapped in a thick blanket and sipping steaming coffee, eyes unfocused.
Jim felt only sympathy for her.
"Sandburg and I were here
in the woods, working on stuff." Simon didnt need a clarification for
that. "I heard Miss Deduse crying and pleading for her life and we ran over
to help her. Apparently, this guy- John Accermen- had been making advances on
her all week at work. She kept deterring him, but he couldnt handle "no".
He lured her out behind her house, which is about fifty yards or so south from
where we found them, and
" he trailed off, shaking his head. Simon sighed
and fingered his cigar, looking old and tired. "I pulled out my gun and ordered
him to drop his knife. He didnt, and threatened Miss Deduses life.
I advanced slightly and he moved closer to Miss Deduse. Something flew past my
head and hit Accermen in the hand.
What was that, Chief? I meant
to ask but forgot." Blair shrugged.
"It was a large
pine cone I found on the ground." Both Simon and Jim just stared at him.
"What?" Simon shook his head.
two simply take a walk in the woods without getting into trouble?" he asked.
dont know, sir, Sandburg often takes on more than he can handle," Jim
smirked. Blair scowled. Simon looked suspiciously at them.
does that mean?" he asked Blair.
"I ran into a glass
door, OK? It was closed, I thought it was open, can we move on please?" Simon
"Sandburg, you are a piece of work,"
he said with a broad smile. "I want you two to work on your story and get
why you were out here nice and tight for your report, got it?" He walked
"I dont suppose karaoke would go over too well,
would it?" Blair asked with a grin. Jim shot him a look.
even start with me, Chief," he replied, getting in the truck.
hopped in the passenger side. Jim started the engine and Blair popped in a tape.
Elvis Presley instantly filled the car.