Back at the Bouncing BLT (Or What the Waitress Saw) - rj

My best friend Maryanne and I work at The Bouncing BLT here in Rainier, which is a teeny tiny town just outside of Cascade, Washington. Well, one day, during the lunch rush, my sister Lisa come in grinnin' like she just ate somethin' she shouldn’t oughtta.

So I go, "What?"

And she goes, "You'll never guess."

And I go, "I figured, that's why I whatted you. So …. What?"

So she goes, "You got a break soon?"

And I go, "Come back at three."

So she goes, "Okay."

And I go back to work.

***

Well three o'clock comes and goes and no Lisa, but I just shrug and think to myself, well, maybe she got held up doin' errands, so I just go on with my shift 'til I get off at five thirty.

And there she is sittin' on the bus stop bench right outside, waitin' for me.

So I go, "Well?"

And she goes, "Well, they told me not to tell or else they might get in trouble at their work, and they're real nice guys, so …."

And I'm all bummed, 'cause now I just know it's gotta be juicy stuff, but I could tell she wasn't gonna budge on this. At least not now.

***

So 'bout a week or so goes by and I'm still real curious, so after work last Friday, I ask my best friend Maryanne if she knows what Lisa's holdin' back on.

Well she just pulls me outside and says, "Come with me," and drags me to the bar 'round the corner that's havin' Happy Hour. We get us a coupla beers, start piggin' out on the little baby hot dogs and pretzels they put out, and settle in.

So then, Maryanne starts her story:

"Okay, now, I’m not sure this is exactly it, but a while back, when I was takin' the garbage out to the alley, I noticed Lisa out front of the restaurant and saw her get this real startled look on her face and run off. Well, I couldn't see exactly what she could see, so I kinda snuck over, real careful-like.

"I could see a couple guys talkin' down the block a bit, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. So I snuck around the backs of the stores between our place and the place they were next to and kinda tip-toed through their alley there until I could hear 'em but they couldn't see me.

Well one of 'em says, "Sandburg, what was that all about?"

***

"Wait! Wait! Did you say, 'Sandburg'?"

"Yep."

"Was the other guy tall, kinda built?"

"No 'kinda' about it, Bobbie girl."

"I know those guys! They come in the restaurant all the time for breakfast. The tall one's a cop. Maybe both, not sure about Sandburg."

"Well, that's who I saw. Do you wanna hear the rest?"

Well, I had to hear it now, so I nodded my head so hard, it coulda come off my neck.

And she took up her tale where she left off:

"Well, like I said, the tall one (Jim) okay, Jim, says to Sandburg (Blair) okay, Blair,

"Sandburg, what was that all about?"

And Blair goes, "I think you know, man."

And Jim goes, "Nah, Sandburg, I'm just this throwback with fear-based responses – I'm not even going to hazard a guess."

(I didn't even know cops talked like that, but that's what I heard him say. (Get on with it!) Okay-okay!)

So Blair goes, "How did you ever make detective when you can't even detect how people feel about you. You even have those sentinel senses—

(Wow! I thought the guy'd said that was all a lie!)

--and you just don't get it."

And Jim sounds all mad and goes, "And you've known me for over three years, so you should know why."

"Know what, Jim?"

"If it's not about the job, I screen it all out. That way—"

"Let me guess: that way if they leave you, betray you, or die – you won't notice too much, you won't feel it, because ….

"Jim? What about when I died?"

"I can't shut you out, Chief. I can feel everything. More than I should. Say something would have felt like a small betrayal to someone with normal senses. Well, then I felt it as though you'd knifed me in the gut with a serrated blade and twisted it.

"Oh, God! Jim!"

And here Blair is sort of groaning like he's in pain. And then he goes, "But wait a minute. If you can't shut me out, then how come you can't figure me out now?"

"Because I'm—what if I'm wrong, Chief?"

"You know, Jim, this is kind of pissing me off, here. When it comes to the nasty stuff, you aren't afraid to go there – and pretty over the top, if you ask me. But you're afraid to guess that maybe I love you? What's up with that, man?

"Well, you just gotta know that I had to wiggle around where I could see these guys, so I got down low behind a dumpster and watched. And this is what came next:

Jim goes, "You what?"

Blair kinda snorts and goes, "You heard me, Jim."

And they're both real quiet for a minute and just drivin' me nuts 'cause they don't friggin' look at each other. They're standin' at about 90 degrees to each other, Blair pretendin' to look out at the street, and Jim kinda lookin' down at the top of Blair's head.

Then Blair goes, "Been feelin' that way for a long time, maybe since Peru. But I guess … I mean … you never said anything …. So you're probably not interested."

And then Blair kinda looks up at him out of the corner of his eye, but as soon as Jim starts to catch his eye, Blair looks back at the street. And I thought, 'What is wrong with these guys?!'

So then Jim looks down at Blair's face (which is still turned towards the street) and starts talkin' kinda quiet-like.

"Well, Chief, truth be told, I sorta noticed … something. But I was too afraid to put a name to it. Some time around Peru, I gave up thinking you were caught up in hero worship. And after the … fountain, and then the press conference, well, 'brother' wasn't working, either, so …. No name seemed to fit any more—"

"It's 'the love that dare not speak its name,' Jim."

And Jim kind of smiles and says, "Must be why I couldn't guess it." But then he gets a serious look on his face and talks to Blair's right eyebrow.

"Whatever you want to call it … I'm … definitely interested."

And finally – finally – Blair turns and looks up at Jim, his eyes goin' all wide and he's goin, "Really?"

And Jim grins and goes, "Yeah, really," and then puts his arm around Blair's neck and proceeds to rub noogies on Blair's scalp.

***

"You are kidding, right?" I say, 'cause I just can't believe it.

But Maryanne goes, "No, I am not kidding. But I'm also not done yet." And she does a sort of Mr. Spock eyebrow twitch for half a second, then gets on with her story:

Well, Blair's all gigglin' from this dumb noogies game, but soon he starts ticklin' Jim under his pits 'til Jim lets go of Blair's neck.

Then, soon as Jim lets go, Blair runs his arm around the back of Jim's head and pulls it down so's the guys are eyeball to eyeball.

Then, Blair says, "Well, back in the Bull Pen, when you tossed me the badge -- if I'd known what noogies meant when you did 'em, I woulda done my version of noogies."

And Jim laughs and says, "Yeah?" And just what might your version be, Chief?"

And Blair shows him, all right. He lays a liplock on that man that coulda suctioned the fillings right out of his teeth.

And after a few minutes, they come up for air, giggling a bit. And then, Jim slings his arm 'cross Blair's shoulders and says, "Come on, let's get busy."

The end.

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