November 23

The following morning, Blair awoke tired and confused. If the day before he had been calm and relaxed - at least relaxed enough to spend the whole day in the hospital with doctors making tests, asking questions and making notes on his physical and mental health - and he had truly believed to feel better, now he felt exactly the opposite. First of all, he could not understand why Jim showed such interest for him. They were perfect strangers, they had never met before. Jim was a cop; he was a student. They lived in very different areas of the city. There was no way they could had accidentally met in the past because they had completely different routines. That night, when he had tried to escape from the hospital, he would had died in the rain if not for Jim. Blair knew Jim was convinced to act for the best taking him back inside to his doctor, he didn't know the reasons why he had been admitted. And he had been sincerely kind to him, he had promised to help him and so he did. He took him to his home, let him sleep in his own bed, he also went to his apartment to recollect his things before the landlord could sell them. He was safe now, his captors had been arrested, so why should he feel so tense? Blair had always been taught not to trust cops; well, the exact word his mother used for them was "pigs". She had explained his son that he shouldn't ever, for any reason, trust a pig. Because "they arrest you, they make you confess what they want!" But Blair had learned that often his mother was too extreme in her judgments. She had been a Hippy in the '60s, she had been in many demonstrations against many subject and she had been arrested a couple of times. Blair loved his mother very much, but he had learnt in the last years he had lived on his own that things were actually different from the way Naomi had explained him. But, despite he didn't share his mother's feelings about cops, he still thought he couldn't trust Jim completely. He declared to be a detective, but crime victims shouldn't normally give their depositions to the police station? Why Jim still hadn't took him to? And why he had insisted with his captain to leave him in his own apartment instead of taking him directly to the hospital? The man's behaviour was strange. Sometimes Blair wondered if the detective wanted something more than gratitude and respect from him. What if Jim was not a cop, what if he was a mad man, a maniac and his only purpose was to kidnap him? He was alone in Cascade, his mother was away, as usual, and he had no other relatives. As a consequence of his dark thoughts, he started to experience a strange feeling in his stomach: fear. And it was growing in intensity within each passing minute he spent in that home. He needed to go out, to put some distance between Jim and himself. Unable to stay in bed a second more, he glanced at the clock on the night table: it was 5 a.m. Decision made, Blair carefully put on some clothes without making any noises. Since his jacket was in the wardrobe, he borrowed Jim's one that was at the feet of the bed. It was huge on him, but it didn't matter. Blair's only wish was to leave that place and to be alone. From his elevated position, Blair saw Jim asleep downstairs on the couch and the main door closed, but the keys were on the kitchen table. He descended the stairs silently; despite he felt his own heart thundering in his chest and his breath coming out very laborious, the detective didn't wake up. The most difficult part of his plan was to find the right key to open the door but he was lucky, he found the correct one on his second attempt. Feeling a little light-headed for his success, he had to withstand the urge to immediately run away and carefully closed the door behind him, leaving the keys on the landing near the door. That accomplished, he left the place and disappeared in the night. In the desert streets, he could now breath a little easier; the cold air was nice on his skin because it reminded him of freedom. He was finally free. The strange feeling in his stomach started to fade out and he felt much better. Without noticing it, he started to walk in his old apartment direction.

Jim awoke around 6.30 a.m., he was stiff and sore because the couch wasn't so comfortable as his own bed. The kid wasn't awake yet – he thought – and since it was early, he decided to have a shower before starting breakfast for them both. The hot water helped him to relax his back muscles and he indulged in the shower a little more than his usual; he didn't hear the telephone ringing and when he came out of the bathroom, freshly shaved and changed in clean clothes, he had to hurry to answer in time at the second call. It was his Captain, clearly worried and agitated, asking about Sandburg and how was he doing.

"He's fine, Simon. The doctors said he is physically fine but he could be a little disoriented and scared for a while, because of Post Traumatic Stress and because of the E.C.T. and the drugs they gave him in the Mental Hospital. All considering, he was surprisingly quiet yesterday. He's still sleeping, if your call hasn't wake him up. I am going to come to the precinct with him today, so he can give you his statement. Isn't it what we decided to do? Are there any problems?"

The older man sighed on the phone.

"Someone paid the bail for the doctor and the orderlies. We had to let them go. I just wanted to make sure the kid is with you. We need to keep him safe, he is our main witness and his testimony is our best chance to put them behind bars. Be careful, Jim. And take him in as soon as you can."

"I will, Simon. We'll be there in an hour!"

"See you later then!"

As soon as Jim closed the call, he headed for the stairs to his bedroom, calling Blair's name but he didn't answer him. Halfway he noticed something wasn't right! Jim's jacket was gone with the kid's clothes and the bed was desert. He remembered now that his keys were not on the kitchen table where he left them the night before. The reality of the situation hit him hard. Blair was gone! He was alone in Cascade with three dangerous men watching for him. Jim was not a religious man, but prayed God to let him find Blair soon…


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