pull into the usual parking space next to the Volvo, grit my teeth and prepare
to go out into the worst storm Cascade has seen in years. Lightning streaks across
the sky and the thunder threatens to slam into my senses, so I "dial"
everything down.....just like he has taught me. Slinging open the door, I jump
out of the truck and immediately feel the icy rain slash at my skin.
fast that it is all one motion, I slam the truck's door and turn to run like crazy
into the safety of the building. It is not good to be the sentinel on a night
such as this.
The elevator ride to our floor
seems to take forever. I am soaked to the bone and the onslaught of the storm
on my senses has left everything out of whack and jumpy. I start listening for
him as soon as the elevator doors open. It is times like these that I fell utterly
dependent upon him. Part of me, a really big part, hates this, but I have to admit
there is this other part that kind of finds a certain joy in the mystery of it
all....I mean it
is just so damned weird.
heartbeat sounds far away, and I don't hear any sounds of movement in the loft
itself. I wonder if it is maybe just me....so I turn things back up a notch only
to be greeted by a particularly loud clap of thunder....Damn! I'll say it again...storms
are hard on a sentinel.
I finally find my
keys that I am fishing for in my pocket and I notice that I am having a hard time
getting the stupid things in the lock.....my hand is shaking so badly from the
cold. His heartbeat is steady but still very soft...and I think for the millionth
time....why am I listening to it anyway....damn again. I open the door at last
and scan the
loft quickly, and it hits me
like a cold slap that I *need* to see him. Sometimes crap happens with this sentinel
business and I just have to touch base with "the guide." This isn't
easy for me as I am basically a hard-ass, but it is the way things are.
I am looking all around for him, not being able to rely on my hearing as much
as I would like due to the fact that the thunder is rattling my teeth and all.
At last I see him, and where of all places do you think he is? Well, of course,
the little idiot is on the balcony....in the storm. Great! I am soaking, needing
a little mental relief, and the guide is standing in the rain....and lightning.
I tell you this is something. I am looking out there, right...wondering "What
the hell is wrong with you, Chief?" when I finally get what is going on.
My guide is standing in the rain, with his face tilted up and lightning literally
dancing around him. Now, no, I don't mean huge bolts or anything. I am not telling
an anthropological adventure story here. But there is this lightning skittering
across the sky...those small crooked streaks that remind you of edges of broken
glass. They surround the sky
I think to myself, "Have you finally lost it, Sandburg?" and I get out
on that balcony in record shattering time. I stand at the doorway, more than a
little worried and not in the best of moods...but he doesn't move...not a muscle.
He just keeps staring up at the heavens, and they just keep pouring down on him.
hesitate before calling him or reaching out. Something in that region of my brain
that seems to house *those* instincts holds me back. I have to admit that as cold
and wet as I am, I am awe struck. I mean he is just...well, magnificent. His hair
is plastered to his head and his usual baggy clothes are clinging to him...but
his face...it is radiant.
So I stand there
like an idiot watching him. Sometimes this guy just gets to me. There is something
so ancient and noble there...and I find my mind thinking of the warriors I have
I shake myself free of
the shaman thoughts and get back to reality. We both need to get the hell in the
house. So I go over to him and call his name. Well, I think I say, "Sandburg!"
but that doesn't sound right to my ears and of course he ignores me anyway. I
try again only this time I just softly say, "Chief?" Now understand,
there is lightning flashing all over the place and the thunder is trying to turn
my brain to mush but just that
spoken word gets his attention. His eyes are wide open...in fact, they are so
large and clear they overwhelm me and I just stare back at him. I'm wondering
if he is upset and if that is why he is out here in this mess. Then he smiles.
Not one of those goofy grins but a real smile. A bright "all over his face
and into those huge eyes" kind of smile.
reach out and take his arm and pull him toward me. Without thinking, the motion
turns into an embrace. I mean, I just fold him into my arms and hold him. The
rational side of me expects shivers and cold skin as I touch him but that is not
how it is. He is warm and calm and when he tilts his head to look at me he is
as centered as I have ever seen him....certainly as he has been since.....her.
anyway, I move him back a little and stand there looking down into those eyes
and wonder, "What is going on?" But I just wait...he needs to speak
first. Then it hits me. We are acting out the guide/sentinel thing here. On the
balcony, in the pouring rain, during an electrical storm. This is crazy!
looks at me with kindness and asks, "Everything OK, big guy?" I smile
at him. "What are you doing out here, Chief?" He gives me this patient,
parental type look and replies, "Being the shaman of the city, Jim."
You know me, man of few words and all, the only thing I can do is pull him back
into the embrace. He returns it this time, his arms encircling my waist and hands
grasping my coat. I feel this intense protective thing with this kid, so much
like a...well...sentinel, I guess.
like that for a minute and then he pulls away and laughs. This time when I look
at him, his eyes are dancing and crinkled at the corners and his hair is starting
to fall into his face with rivulets of water trickling down each strand. I realize
that Blair is back as he giggles once more and says, "The neighbors are calling
the cops, we better get inside." I laugh and whack him on the back of the
head as we turn to move our silly butts into the loft, looking like a couple of
Later, dry and warm and feeling
a lot more human, I grab the remote and head to my favorite sentinel guarding
post armed with popcorn and beer. Blair is at the laptop of course and I can hear
the tap of the keys....I smile at myself as I realize that sound has become a
comforting one...all is well. Glancing over to where he is sitting at the table,
I see that he is in serious thought with his nose wrinkled in concentration. He
looks up and
finds me watching him, smiles
a half-smile and shrugs.
"I know Chief,
I know...it's a strange life but somebody's got to live it, right?" Our eyes
meet and we share a grin before turning back to our respective screens.