Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Sixteen

My blog fiction continues...

Chapter Sixteen

by John L. Harmon

    “You dropped something,” Dr. Samuel Dwyer mentions, purposely not glancing down at the beige near his feet.

    “I didn’t drop it,” Sheriff Benjamin Straker explains, his tone clarifying the situation.

    Sam defiantly picks up the hat and fully enters the bathroom.  Drawing near, he places the beige on the sink counter and ignores it.  “Looks like you’ve had a rough morning, Sheriff.”

    Ben faces the mirror and his disheveled reflection once more.  He is not certain if he didn’t notice or just didn’t care about the gash near his left eye.  Either way, Ben begins washing his hands and arms while giving the lavatory visitor a curious glance.

    “Who are you?”

    Sam momentarily toys with the notion of stating his name.  He decides an obvious joke would be ill-timed considering what they just witnessed.

    “I’m just a regular guy like you, Sheriff.  Just attempting to figure out what exactly is occurring in your town.”

    Ben contemplates his answer as he begins washing the dirt and blood from his face.  He concludes that this man is far from regular.  This, in turn, leads him to another question, after drying off with paper towels.

    “Why do you and Dr. Abernathy work in such a unique way?”

    “What do you mean?”

    Ben ditches the towels and faces the one-half of the scientific duo.  “The way the two of you work in opposite unison, like a mirror.”

    “Oh, that.”  Sam flashes that becoming smile and blushes.  Actually blushes.  “Christine and I devised a method to work efficiently in close quarters and now it has become habit.  Even the students at the University have speculated about it.

    “Clyde and I probably have our own quirks,” Ben nods in understanding, “or we will when this is all over.”

    A moment of silence passes before Sam slips into familiarity.  “We should really bandage that wound.”  He moves closer to the Sheriff, pulling out a small black kit from a lab-coat pocket.

    “That—that’s a good idea,” Ben stammers a little, tensing slightly at the close proximity.  He carefully watches Dr. Samuel Dwyer open the kit and splash a clear liquid on a sanitized cloth.

    “This is going to hurt, Sheriff.”

    For a moment, Ben questions himself.  He is an adult and can take care of himself, been doing it for years.  Then reality hits him.  It really has been a rough morning and this simple act of kindness from a stranger is like a taste of fresh air.

    Sam gently, but firmly, applies the cloth, causing his patient to shut his eyes and ball his fists.  After the initial burning subsides, light chestnut eyes open and hands relax.  The doctor sets the used cloth aside and removes a sealed bandage from the kit.

    “I’m sorry about your friend.  He seemed like a nice man.”

    At these simple words of condolence, Ben begins to see this doctor of science as more.  As a complex person standing in front of him.  “Thanks.  Gordon was a good man.”

    With a sympathetic nod, Sam places the bandage, at a slant, over the gash.  He presses the adhesive down by simultaneously sliding two fingers up Ben’s forehead and two fingers down his temple.  Crisp blue locks with light chestnut and Sam nearly allows his latter digits to move beyond the bandage, to warm, stubbly skin.

    “That will do for now…Benjamin,” Sam states, somewhat reluctantly, as he takes a small step back.

    “Thank you…Samuel,” Ben chokes out, as if finally daring to breathe for the first time since he can remember.

    Dr. Samuel Dwyer, for the first time in a long time uncertain of what to say or do, reaches for the Sheriff’s hat he had placed on the sink counter.  He turns it over a couple of times, trying to prolong this moment.  Finally, he offers the beige to its rightful owner.

    “It’s not over yet, Sheriff.”

    Sheriff Benjamin Straker glances at the hat, and then at his own reflection.  Despite the overwhelming desire to give up, he knows these words to be true.  Once again locking eyes with the man before him, Ben reaches out.
Click CHAPTER SEVENTEEN to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,


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