of Fraud ... If Only
Blair Sandburg waited
outside the Dean's office, rehearsing the words he had painstakingly written and
deliberated on for what seemed like an eternity, but had only been a few days.
Two days. Forty-eight hours. Two thousand, eight hundred and eighty minutes. He
blinked rapidly as he tried to calm himself. Two thousand, eight hundred and eighty
minutes ago it began...and my life has changed forever.
one year shy of half my life spent at this very university, pouring my heart and
soul into being an anthropology professor. I was *this* close to achieving mydream....*THIS
close*, man! If only my mom hadn't been trying to help me. If only her editor
friend hadn't taken matters into his own hands. If only Sid hadn't leaked word
to the press. It couldn't have been just local press. NO! He had to give it to
the Associated Press and now it's all over the country...probably the world. Man,
I am like *so* angry that this got out. And Jim won't even look at me....
sniffled at that thought and angrily wiped a stray tear away. Jim...my best
friend, my partner, my roommate....my Sentinel...my Sentinel...MY Sentinel...MY
Everything he had ever dreamed
of culminated in that one moment of time when he had discovered that Detective
James Ellison had berserk senses, heightened senses. And Jim almost killed
me that first day when I met him....If only he had been able to turn off his senses...if
only...if only...if only...too many "ifs" here...
took a deep breath and checked the clock. Three minutes before his press conference.
only he didn't have to appear at this press conference. If only....if only....
It started as a mantra to calm himself, to gather his courage to walk out in front
of the many cameras and reporters, to stand in front of his mother, the dean of
his department, the Chancellor. Naked...vulnerable....
only he could run away and hide, find a nice quiet spot somewhere far, far away,
turn back the clock, turn back those 2880 minutes before word had leaked out about
Jim and his heightened senses....if only.
smoothed his hair one final time, checked his zipper - God, can't go on live
TV and have my fly open. If only it were that simple...to close this whole
chapter of my life like closing up a zipper. If only I can look back at this day
and laugh about it. Well, it's no laughing matter. Far from it. If only I had
taken out the diskette and locked it up, too. If only I had turned off the computer...if
Naomi walked up to
Blair and gave him a hug and quick kiss. He returned her hug.
you sure you want to do this, Blair?"
didn't trust his voice so he only nodded. She patted his cheek once, then slipped
through the door to stand at the side of the podium.
only...I hadn't been born...I wouldn't have met Jim Ellison. If only I hadn't
been brought back from the dead when Alex drowned me...if only....if only....
only...Jim would have talked to me instead of throwing me out of the loft... I
wouldn't have died. If only I had told him about Alex...if only....
took another deep breath and tried to cleanse those self-negating thoughts from
of his mind.
If only I can get through
this press conference without making a complete fool of myself. Listen to me...I've
already made a complete fool of myself, or will have, once this press conference
is over...if only...
in fast forward, the times he had spent with Jim from the first day they had met,
trying to take his mind off of the upcoming event. He scrubbed his face with his
hands and again tried to take a deep breath, but found his throat constricting.
only Jim knew that this whole thing was about friendship.
He looked at his watch again. Two minutes to go. Friendship. It was always
about friendship, the moment he said he needed me. We were both a little slow
to realize that. If only Jim could see that it was always about friendship, not
the dissertation, not the three little letters behind my name. If only...
He inhaled long, slow, deep. If only I could turn back the clock those 48 hours
before hell broke lose. If only...
squared his shoulders, raised his head, took five steps forward to the door, put
out his hand to open the door, took one last breath, then pushed the door open
with authority. If only... He looked at the assembled camera crews, reporters,
deans, professors, the chancellor, his mother, his would-be publisher, and finally
the Dean. If only Jim were here, by my side, this would be a hell of a lot
easier. In only Jim were here...
only Jim could see this. If only...
took a deep breath, bowed his head to scan his notes, then started to speak, "In
our media-informed culture, a scientist..."
gave his speech, then quickly ducked out the door through which he had entered.
He stopped to lean against the wall as he wiped a telltale tear from his face.
only...if only Jim could see the sincerity. If only Jim could listen with his
heart, instead of his head. If only he could forgive me for this. If only I could
see into the future and know everything would turn out all right. If only...
mind went numb as he hurriedly left the building, stumbled to his car, and drove
away, with no idea where he was headed.