Ellison continued his tirade as the Volvo
sputtered to a halt in front of a large neighborhood park.
KNEW I shouldn't have let you drive, Sandburg! This was all some sort of convoluted
plot wasn't it? You may have that innocent *who me* look, but you are plotting.
Always plotting." Jim tossed his friend an icy blue glare as they both exited
the small car.
"This idea of Easter
egg hunts being some sort of sentinel proving grounds is absolutely the most IDIOTIC
kind of reasoning I've heard from you in... what... 12 hours maybe? I should have
known there was some kind of sadistic plot going on when you begged to drive us
to Simon's for Easter dinner. I just should have known. But no, I accepted the
fact that my FRIEND was concerned about my lack of rest and apparent fragile physical
Blair chuckled as he bounced
alongside the big detective. "Aw, come on, Jim. This'll be fun. I always
catch an Easter egg hunt and watch the kids. It's culturally significant if nothing
else. Admit it man, the day is absolutely gorgeous isn't it? We're outside watching
people and their little ones all dressed up in their finest clothes. To do what?
Hunt for eggs and candy in the grass. I personally find it extremely interesting
and somehow refreshing."
Jim's answering growl as he came to a stop just outside the roped off grounds
for the hunt. The kids were in a giant clump, readying for the whistle that would
send them in pursuit of the coveted confections. Watching the milling and excited
bunch was amusing and before long Jim was scanning the area and involving himself
in the proceedings. The grassy part of the *hunting area* nearest to the children
was cut very short and the eggs were easily spotted. Closer to Jim and Blair the
area was wooded and the grass was longer. The eggs there had been hidden with
care, presumably for older or more skilled searchers. This was the domain of the
infamous *prize eggs*.
Sandburg gave Jim
a knowing grin when Jim snuck a sidelong glance his way.
what I mean?? These things are a blast. Oh man, here they go! Watch this!"
At the sound of the whistle the kids stormed
out onto the grass. It was amazing to see how quickly the eggs disappeared as
the young participants plopped them in their baskets. Soon the easily seen eggs
were gone and the children began making their way to the more challenging part
of the hunt.
Jim hated to admit it,
but this egg hunting stuff was pretty darned fascinating. He laughed as he watched
the frantic darting of the young hunters and wondered about the validity of Sandburg's
earlier statement. Was it possible this was a type of situation in which he first
learned to hone the fledgling skills of a young sentinel? If given the proper
home environment, might someone have recognized his abilities and encouraged them
due to activities such as this? These thoughts were actually pleasant to ponder
in the festive setting of the egg hunt and Ellison felt a surge of appreciation
for the guide by his side.
detective's attention was drawn back to the mown area and to a little boy standing
in the middle of the closely cropped grass. His young mother stood nearby as she
quietly encouraged the toddler to find eggs. Apparently his small chubby legs
had not been able to carry him about the course quickly enough and all the eggs
were gone before he could find one. He seemed content and merely watched his counterparts
dashing about the long grass trying to find the prizes. Jim was immediately struck
by the baby's beautiful smile and the soft curls that framed his angelic face
as they tousled in the breeze. Oddly, it was not surprising to the detective that
he felt compulsively drawn to the little boy's side.
watched his friend with an amused expression and followed the older man's gaze
to the mother and child. Without warning, Jim grabbed the anthropologist's arm
and gave it a brief squeeze before turning to step over the rope and onto the
grassy course. After he briefly talked to the woman and showed his badge to reassure
her, Jim took the little boy's hand and began leading him over to the tall grass
and trees that hid the remaining eggs.
small boy's expression was rapt as he listened to the big detective explaining
the fundamentals of competitive egg hunting. Jim had made a new friend. Blair's
smile widened as he watched the sentinel and his young charge, followed happily
by a pleased mom, on their way to what surely was to be a successful venture.
He was so involved with the sweetness of the gesture he was quite unprepared for
the comments he overheard as the trio
"So you see, Little Chief, you
gotta watch what I do here and think about it. Later you could find these strategies
very useful *and* you might even need to show them to someone else as time goes
on. I know *that* lucky person is bound to appreciate a keen observer such as
Blair blinked and swallowed
the lump in his throat as he quietly returned the affectionate grin the sentinel
sent his way.