Part III - El Otro Lado
El Otro Lado
“…and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.” - Yehuda Bauer
Holmquist heads to Willis. She hunts for a smile in his expressionless face as his dreads move in subtle waves, then pats him down beginning with his shoulders. Their thoughts conjoin and surface with each pat. Today she sees things as they are, like Skye, King of the Pond, open to anything. There is no static here, reading things loud and clear. Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist turns to make sure the detective isn’t looking, but he hasn’t taken his eyes off the scene, supervising every move, including that of the preoccupied patrolman. Abruptly her feathered deputies begin chirping like a street-corner quartet. The detective turns toward the Blue Jay’s commotion, and Sharon quickly reaches into Willis’ pocket, extracts the divot tool and slips it under her shirt.
Sharon, head pounding, acts out the rest of the search while Willis stays alert to the minutes to come, jatas restless. Willis nods toward Jay.
“You’re next. Miss Jay,” Sharon says sweetly, being careful not to say “ma’am.”
“Lots of padding to cover hon. Take it slow though dear, and stay close to your center. Besides, the patrolman needs more time to manifest his courage to ask the young lady out.” Jay quips winking at the tall amorous rookie. By this time, it is obvious to all present that the motions of flipping through evidential photos on Val’s phone are together time.
The detective sends a flippant glance at Jay and then the patrolman as he commands Masuyo to raise her arms.
“Hands up Yoko!” he shouts.
“Be gentle with her, she is healing,” Ricardo warns.
“Healing from what there Doctoro Meh – hee - co?” the detective asks in a poorly executed accent.
Ricardo has some words to throw back at the detective that thinks he is so hilarious but decides to take a breath. That’s what Jay would do. Let’s not put more negative energy into the universe. The detective pats down Masuyo’s petite frame. Discomforted and manhandled, her scars reappear like soft shadows.
“She’s clean,” he calls to Holmquist, opening a blood collection kit.
“I’ll need to take a specimen,” he declares, looking down at her red-stained hands.
Dotting the blood off her fingers, he looks back up at her face discerning the scars. The not so funny detective doesn’t recall seeing marks on Masuyo’s face. Shaking his head, he’s thinking maybe his investigative skills need sharpening, or he should be working fewer hours.
“You’re next doc-tor-o,” he says under his breath, carefully sealing the fresh sample.
Masuyo repositions herself directly in front of Ricardo so fast it startles the detective. He instinctively reaches toward his baton but stops bewildered and confused when he sees Masuyo’s scars have disappeared.
“What’s happening here? Yiz see that? Is this a farmers market magic act?” the detective asks, raising his voice trying to make sense of things that don’t make sense to investigators of his tenure.
Ricardo rests his hands on Masuyo’s shoulders and nudges her to the side. “Gracias dear lady, it’s okay, there is no danger here.” Masuyo bows her head and relaxes her expression.
“It is the heat detective,” says Ricardo in his best Mexican doctor’s voice, holding his arms up for the search.
Patting Ricardo down, dust blooms off his dusty pants. The detective feels a small tube in Ricardo’s pocket.
“What’s this? Coke? Meth? You with the cartel doc? Take it out! Slow!” the detective commands.
The detective stands back, hand resting on his baton. Ricardo reaches into his pocket and reveals a tube of watermelon lip balm, glancing guiltily at Jay who immediately blows a kiss his way.
“It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected, Mark Twain,” she says forgivingly.
“Yiz know each other?” the detective asks as Ricardo attempts to hand him the lip balm.
“No thank you doc-tor-o. You keep that.” Ricardo looks straight at the detective and uncaps the tube near his mouth, twists the bottom and spreads the balm.
“The lady and I have met,” he says, smacking his lips.
Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist could care less about searching the watermelon knife-wielding woman who is everything sweet could be.
“Are you good?” Holmquist asks Jay as she pretends to search her, going through the motions.
“Dear, everything that is good is tucked in my soul and in that suitcase,” Jay explains.
Holmquist runs her fingers through Jay's hair, primping with both hands adjusting the way it falls. Noticing the thin scar just below Jay’s hairline, she lands a gentle kiss on her sweaty forehead. Yarborough clears his throat a couple of times, louder with each primp.
“Find anything, Lieutenant?” the detective asks, rolling his eyes.
“She’s fine,” Lieutenant Holmquist answers, wavering as consciousness ebbs.
“Jay. Not a bystander,” Masuyo whispers.
“Then let’s get some names starting with you, dreadlocks,” pointing with a dismissive arm and lazy finger at Willis.
The quartet pass reassuring glances like dominoes. Willis to Ricardo, Ricardo to Masuyo, Masuyo to Jay.
The detective pulls his pad and pen out of his shirt pocket, licks his finger and flips to a blank sheet a dozen well-worn pages in.
“Let’s have it,” he blurts impatiently, not looking up from the pad.
Willis exerts some effort to still his dreads so not to call more attention to whatever is happening to him and his new friends.
“Now!” the officer yells, tapping his gun strap with the pencil looking straight at Willis. Willis checks again with his new friends, and they all agree with their eyes.
“I’m,” Willis stutters deepening his voice. “I am Rasta-man,” he says, drawing a circle around his ear like the lifeguard did not long ago. “Serious,” he says.
“I am doc-toro,” Ricardo says, accent purposefully thick, “from Me-hee- co,” with a grin creasing the side of his mouth still shiny from the watermelon lip balm.
“I stack the fucking dishes,” blurts Masuyo, standing like Diana the Huntress, swinging her cape-like red coat behind her.
Jay’s inhales deep, the sound of rushing air commanding attention as her chest expands.
“I’m the fat bitch,” she sings with a big smile, like a crescent of watermelon across her entire face.
Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist smiles a Jay like smile and slips to the ground. Each limb collapsing in turn, her body limp, her chest rising in short labored breaths.
All the angels form a circle around Sharon. As they close in, Willis’s dreads roll in waves, Ricardo straightens his logo-less cap, Jay’s chest expands with her deepest breath ever, and Masuyo’s scars disappear.
“Yiz, stand back. I’m calling for help,” yells the detective. His radio blares static.
“What’s going on with my radio?” turning the switches back and forth.
The four Blue Jays swoop in and draft over the lieutenant, the wind from their wings fanning and cooling her, the air underneath a transparent blue. Her hair lifts off the ground and curls in the air. Willis, Ricardo, Masuyo and Jay tighten their circle and touch her head.
Yarborough takes a step back not believing the lord’s works.
“I manifest for her life,” Jay declares, her palm resting on the crown of Sharon’s head.
“Take the walk,” whispers Willis.
“Bendiciones en el viento,” prays Ricardo.
“You got change,” says Masuyo.
“Yiz need to stand away from her. Now!” asserts the detective.
They rise and stand back, and as they do, the Blue Jays lift higher, and Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist is carried to her feet by the wind without moving a muscle.
“I swear, it’s like a damn miracle. The good Lord must love her types too,” says Yarborough, falling to his knees gently on an imaginary pew.
Sharon feels the energy and renewed clarity in her head as she stretches her neck. She opens her eyes to a quartet of angels. She knows there will be no more MRI’s. Today, open to anything. Like Skye.
“Holmquist! Don’t know what yiz are trying to pull off here, but you and I will be having a word once we get back to the precinct,” says the detective.
Sharon knows the precinct is open to nothing, let alone her. But today anything is possible. Maybe Lennon was right.
Jay smiles ear to ear and locks pinkies with Ricardo. Ricardo, chin up, shoulders back, reaches for Masuyo’s hand. Masuyo squeezes back gently while her hair flies in a sudden river gust, and with her other hand, links fingers with Willis, tall and serious.
The four Blue Jays fly in place above their heads, drafting in the wind. Ricardo remembers the Turquoise Jay on his duffle bag, under the bridge in Cartagena, and the familiar blue glow in the air.
The police radios scream, and the angels vanish.
“Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed. Luke 8:50,” Yarbrough marvels, as the blue air curls in fine wisps.
“I got it,” blurts Val. “On camera!”
“Get up Yarborough. Yiz got me stumped,” groans the detective, his face long and bewildered.
He points to the young rookie, “Grab the camera lover boy and disperse this crowd!”
Lieutenant Sharon Holmquist quietly picks up the watermelon suitcase and places it on the passenger seat of her car and slips away before they notice. It’s feeling good to be Sharon today.
Carried east to the sea, Willis, Masuyo, Ricardo and Jay walk through the blue air in the ankle-deep water.
The west wind peels a fine mist off a breaker onto the shore. The gust bends the sea oats to the ground while the particles of water coalesce, and the blue air clears. Hands still locked Willis, Masuyo, Ricardo and Jay close the circle.
Willis’ dreads organize themselves into a bundle atop his head.
“We are on the other side,” Ricardo breathes, tightening his hand around Masuyo’s.
“You got change!” Masuyo’s calls to the sea.
“Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with! Mark Twain,” quips Jay, nodding her head in affirmation.
At the end of that long day, Sharon arrives home, setting Jay’s watermelon patterned suitcase on the porch. Skye greets her, scratching at the door. It is good to take the walk; like Willis said. The pair head to the pond, Skye darting in and about her legs. They pause at the bank and look at their reflections. They are just how they are supposed to be. Sharon’s Blue Jay friends celebrate in the twilight, their swoops and turns mirrored in the water.
Tonight, the moon rises as the sun sets, each taking their place on the horizon in a moment of balance. Sharon follows Skye into the house, up the four steps, naming each them as she goes. Willis, Masuyo, Ricardo and Jay. Sharon curls up on the couch with Skye in her lap. Open to anything she thinks. When her phone rings, it is Kiley.