Josh told Luc what had happened and how the police suspected it was an attempted kidnapping. "From what Alex said and what the police deduced, the two seemed to know exactly where to go, and I guess, that only one of us was home. A neighbor called the police when she heard Alex screaming."
"You heard nothing, Cândido? Luc asked.
"I guess savage jungle boy slipped up. Actually, I had just gotten home and hadn't even put my things down when the officer came to ask me for help with Alex, so I wasn't here when it all went down. I didn't notice the apartment door being open, but I guess I wouldn't since you don't pass it coming from the stairs and I walked up. Wait a minute! Remember my commenting on the car following us? I bet they have been watching you and Alex coming and going. I'm sure if the police look, they will find the car in the neighborhood. I'll go speak to them.
Cândido went next door and told the police about the car and gave them a description of it. Officer Winters said he would call it in and get some help searching the neighborhood for the car.
At six Josh left for the hospital and the unpleasant task of witnessing the machines keeping Mrs. Blankenship alive being turned off. He met James Davis in the lobby and the two of them went to the room where Mrs. Blankenship was. Neither was surprised by Kelly's absence. Three doctors were in the room and each examined Mrs. Blankenship and noted the flat line of the brain activity measuring device. Promptly at seven, the life support machines were turned off. One of the doctors had told the two men that in some instances although heart and respiration should cease immediately when the machines were disconnected, it didn't happen. "Would seem impossible, but it happens. A reminder that a human body is not just a simple machine." It didn't happen in this case.
"I was disappointed, but not surprised that Kelly wasn't present," Josh said. "Seems to me, that was the least he could do."
"Josh, you still have a blind spot when it comes to Kelly. The only concern, the absolute only concern, the man has is for Kelly. That has been true as long as I have known him and that goes back to the second grade. I tried to call him today, but was never able to reach his cell—it was out of service—and no one answered the landline. Mrs. Blankenship's ashes will be interred Saturday at eleven if you want to be present. There will be no service."
"I'll be there."
When he got back to the apartment, the crime scene unit was just finishing up. Officers Casey and Winters were just waiting until they had packed up and they would lock the apartment and leave. "Mr. Taylor," Officer Winters said, "your observant friend has provided a major clue. The car was located and inside was a packet creating two people. Unfortunately, that has proven little help in identifying who the two are now. There were also plane tickets to Newark, and from Newark to Los Angeles, and from there to Cambodia—a country without an extradition treaty with the US—but I suspect that was only a stop off. Well, we are going. Give us a call if anything comes up or Mr. Bledsoe remembers anything more," he said, handing Josh his card. Josh shook hands with both officers and they left.
When he went next door, Luc said, "Josh, I have ordered dinner, but put it on hold until you got back. I'll give the go ahead on that. Cândido hasn't left Alex's side since he was brought in here."
Josh went into the guest room where Cândido was watching Alex closely. "I wanted time to observe Alex closely and have been doing so in hopes I could determine which of what Luc calls my mumbo jumbo would be helpful. Luc kinda laughs at it, but I notice he is always willing to make use of it when he's sick. It's worked for us savages for a few hundred years and has never hurt anyone."
"Cândido, I have great respect for you and your Bororo heritage. I also love and respect you as a friend. I would be honored to have you care for Alex."
"Thank you," he replied, "and this doesn't mean you shouldn't call his Boulder doctors."
Josh did just that and talked to both Shawn and Henry. Shawn said the attack was enough to throw anyone for a loop and he wasn't surprised Alex had reacted as he did. Henry agreed. Henry didn't want to change his medicine—Alex was actually taking none—but did tell Josh to keep the shot and pink pills handy for emergencies. Shawn and Josh talked and agreed that Alex needed to talk with him, so Josh set up an appointment for Thursday afternoon. He and Alex had planned to leave Boulder Wednesday, but a day one way or another no longer mattered as they were free of obligation except to each other and Sentinel Mountain.
Luc came in and said dinner would be there in twenty minutes. As Cândido and Josh watched Alex, Josh asked the question which was always just below the surface, "Why would anyone want to hurt someone as beautiful, loving and caring as Alex?"
He hardly expected an answer, but Cândido said quietly, "Modern civilizations have pushed evil out of the world blaming it on first one thing and then another—heredity; care as an infant; sexual, verbal, physical abuse; and so on—so a person bears no responsibility for his or her actions. Some of us savages believe there are evil spirits in the world and a person has the power to allow them inside or banish them, and that the choice belongs to the individual. If one chooses to allow an evil spirit to live inside, then evil becomes his good. Primitive, sure, but it is one way to talk about an individual's responsibility for his own behavior." Josh nodded.
After dinner, the three talked awhile and suddenly Luc said, "I still haven't found the art department."
"Have you looked at the directory, Lover Mine?" Cândido grinned. Luc blushed. "Leave it to the civilized boy to make simple things complicated, but he's worth putting up with his flaws."
Not that you have any, Dark Lover," Luc said and leaned over and kissed Cândido.
"In all the excitement, I forgot about the design Linda was doing."
"Surprise, surprise," Luc said. "One of us can stay with Alex in the morning and you can go over and look at it."
"Maybe Linda can just email it, but I'll worry about that tomorrow. No one will have to stay with Alex unless he responds differently this time. He will wake up in the morning, a bit groggy, but otherwise, it will be as if nothing happened."
Josh sent a fax to Liam telling him an emergency had come up and he would have the designs to him by noon Friday and they would not pick up the truck and trailer until Thursday morning early. The stress of the day hit him and he said good night to Luc and Cândido and went to bed. As soon as he was in bed, Alex spooned himself into his back, put an arm over him and sighed.
Next morning, Josh awoke to see Alex leaning over him smiling. They exchanged a kiss and both headed to the bathroom. Luc and Cândido were in the kitchen and said breakfast would be ready in twenty minutes. "How are you, Alex?" Luc asked.
"Fine. Hell of a lot better shape than either of those jokers who tried to handcuff me."
"I'm sure. Well, shower and get dressed and we'll have breakfast."
They showered together and as they were drying each other, Josh said, "Barefoot Boy, I faxed Liam about the design last night and told him we wouldn't pick up the truck and trailer until Thursday morning. We'll fly into Pueblo, pick them up and be in Boulder for late lunch. It's only a two and a half hour drive. I talked to Henry and Shawn last night and both were not surprised that the attack had provoked your reaction. Henry didn't want you back on any medicine and only reminded me to keep the pink pill and injection handy. Shawn scheduled an appointment at four Thursday, but said only if you would like it as he thought your reaction was perfectly normal given your history at New Beginnings."
When Luc got to the office, things were all abuzz over the attempted kidnapping and Alex's stopping it. Promptly at nine, Prue called Luc. "There is a Linda Graham on the line. Says she's the art department."
"She is, put her through."
"This is Luc."
"Blankenship policy, Linda… it's Luc."
"Well, Luc, I need to contact Josh. It's kinda urgent since because of all the excitement yesterday, we didn't get together on a design he needs by noon today and he hasn't approved the go ahead on one. Know how I can contact him?"
"Sure, he's at my place. Could you fax him a copy or email it?"
"I could, but I think he needs to see them full-size as what I think he wants and what he asked for aren't exactly the same thing. I think he'll want my suggestion rather than his."
"He's usually pretty sure he knows what he wants. Maybe if I take a look."
"Sure. Do you know where the art department is?"
"Sorry to say I don't. Like Josh, I didn't know we had one until Josh told me. I mean to change that and promised Josh I would. Where are you?"
"Two floors down. Turn left off the elevator."
Luc hung up, walked out of his office and said, "Elizabeth, Prue, have all my calls directed to the art department and come with me." The three rode the elevator down and saw the art department sign.
After introductions, Linda said, "I have a set up so I can project the designs as they will appear on a generic truck and trailer. First, Josh wanted the truck to be identified with Sentinel Mountain, with Sentinel Rock as its, I guess, trademark, symbol, or logo. He gave me several photos to use for the center of the logo. He wanted the words 'Sentinel Mountain' to arch above and 'Wren, North Carolina' below. I selected two and based three designs on them. First, the one with just the rock. Then two with a figure, one seated on a boulder at the edge of Sentinel Rock and one as a sentinel. Here's how they would look with the lettering. Josh was concerned that using the one with the figure on the boulder would mean he could be identified, so with a little help from Photoshop I managed to change it. The sentinel not only underscores the name, but also honors the men of Elijah's WWII camp." The figure was dressed in a WWII style uniform with a rifle over his shoulder.
"I don't think Josh will go along with the figure with the rifle as Sentinel Mountain seems to be homing in on being about Boys' Camp," Luc said. "I suspect for many who are there, guns are bad news. I think it would be a toss up between the other two as to which Josh would choose." Both Prue and Elizabeth nodded.
"Both are really great," Prue said. "Is the place as wonderful as it appears in photos?"
"Indeed it is and I'm sure you'll see it before too long once he and Alex are there permanently."
"The trailer design is really different from what he suggested. Here's what he asked for." The same two pictures of Sentinel Rock had been used and standing, rampant, on one side was a black Mustang and on the other a white Mangalarga Marchador with black mane.
"I can see Josh wanting that, but what's your suggestion?"
Linda projected her suggestion: 'head shots' of the same two horses, facing forward, manes flying in the wind. There was no question. The three agreed that it was the design to be used. Luc immediately called his apartment and asked Cândido to talk to Josh.
"I have neither seen nor heard from them this morning."
"Well, Josh has a trip to NC hanging on getting their horses there and that depends on his approving a design. It has to be in the dealer's hands by noon, so he'd best get over here as he needs to see them full scale."
"I'll see what I can do." Cândido walked to the guest room door and tapped softly.
Josh answered, "We're decent."
Cândido said, "Luc called and said you need to see some design full scale and your approval needs to be given before noon. It's quarter of ten now."
"Thanks. We're on our way in twenty minutes." Alex was now awake and the two showered together, got dressed and Josh grabbed a cup of coffee and Alex one of Bororo tea and they were off. Luc, Elizabeth and Prue had waited for them to see what they thought of the two designs. Luc had suggested Linda show her suggestion for the trailer first and when he saw it, Alex said, "That's it!"
Josh wasn't ready to give up his idea until it was projected. He immediately said, "Well, I can't be right all the time. When showed the truck design, he studied all three—one with him sitting on the edge of the rock, one with a man with a rifle across his shoulder and one of the bare rock. "Before I say anything, what are your opinions?"
"The Old Man can't make a decision," Prue chuckled. "I don't believe it! I think the one with the man with a rifle is too much if the focus of Sentinel Mountain is to be Boys' Camp. If I were in your shoes, I don't know that I'd want my face plastered all over the place and I suspect this will not be the last time the design is used."
"Well. I tried to make sure his face couldn't be identified," Linda said.
"I think you accomplished that, but anyone seeing the design and knowing Josh will supply the face."
"True," Luc said. "I go with the plain lookout."
There were nods all around until Alex said, "I love all three, but let's be honest, from the angle in that picture, it appears the valley below is just trees."
"True, but is that bad?" Elizabeth asked. "The focus is on Sentinel Rock, not what goes on in the valley—which would be hard to discern even if the whole valley was in the photo."
"I agree with all of you. The plain Sentinel Rock is it and, Linda, I love the lettering. Get it to the dealer so he can get an airbrush artist busy working on it, but I did fax him that we wouldn't be there to pick up the truck and trailer until Thursday."
Linda walked to her computer and send the files to the dealer in Colorado, noting that he had until early Thursday to get the truck and trailer ready.
"Now that that's done, hang on to the originals because I agree, we'll be using then again. In your free time, with Luc's permission, how about working on what we need for Boys' Camp and school—shield, mascot, flags, whatever schools use. Oh, and that includes uniforms—everyday, dress and formal," Josh said. All based on Elijah's fiery chariot and horses. Know the story?"
"Of Boys' Camp? No. Elijah's chariot? Vaguely," Linda said.
"Well, when it came Elijah's time to go, a fiery chariot with fiery horses took him into heaven." Boys' Camp will use Elijah's horses and chariot as its symbol because its purpose is to take boys to a better place in life and to honor the man who first started it, Elijah Taylor. Long story. The name will be changed to honor Elijah—Elijah's House, House of Elijah, and Elijah's Chariot are in the running.
"And just when will that be decided?" Alex asked.
"I guess it's been brewing since we talked about it, but really, it will be decided on the Mountain. Rob called and said they debated a name and House of Elijah and Elijah's House were the top choices. They couldn't decide, but decided to try them out, and while almost everyone likes the House of Elijah, it gets too cumbersome quickly, so they seem to be leaning toward Elijah's House and Elijah's Chariot. We may end up with any one of the three, or something else, but we'll use the horses and chariot symbol in any case. By the way, he said Louise welcomed you to her team, Alex."
"Her team?" Alex asked.
"Yeah, her 'We will have a Girls' Camp' team. Linda, the motto is 'To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. Excelsior!'
"I love it!" Prue said.
"I have ever since I learned Ulysses in high school and I love the idea of adding 'Excelsior' since it indicates a direction for seeking," Elizabeth said.
"Fantastic!' Alex agreed.
"Since you all seem to know something about the motto," Luc said, "I assume it has a history?"
"It does," Josh said. "The motto, To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield, is the last line in the English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson's Ulysses. Excelsior is the motto of the state of New York and the title of poems by two American poets, Walt Whitman and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I had in mind the Whitman poem:
Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,
And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the earth,
And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious,
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I—I think no one was ever happier than I,
And who has lavish'd all? for I lavish constantly the best I have,
And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son alive—for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city,
And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and truest being of the universe,
And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the rest,
And who has receiv'd the love of the most friends? for I know what it is to receive the passionate love of many friends,
And who possesses a perfect and enamour'd body? for I do not believe any one possesses a more perfect or enamour'd body than mine,
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those thoughts,
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with devouring ecstasy to make joyous hymns for the whole earth."
"I understand," Luc said, "Fantastic!"
"Maybe we can talk about Boys' Camp a bit at lunch," Josh said. "It's almost noon and lunch is on me. A really nice place… and I guess Prue, you or Elizabeth need to make reservations.
"Oh! Linda keep track of your time as this is a personal project. And, when we get back I want to speak with you about an arrangement which I think will benefit both you and Blankenship LLLP."
After they were seated and had ordered drinks, Prue asked about Boys' Camp and added further, "Why are you not honoring the whole history of Boys' Camp? Why call it Elijah's House or House of Elijah or Elijah's Chariot? Why not call it Camp Elijah to acknowledge both its place in WWII history—when it was a training camp for brave young men not unlike those you'll be recruiting for the new Boys' Camp—and the Boys' Camp which followed?
"Good question," Josh said. He took out his phone and called Rob to put Camp Elijah in the pot. When he completed the call he said, "You wanted to know about Boys' Camp…"
Alex laughed. "Josh said he'd tell you a little about it, but if he gets started it may be dinner before we get to leave."
"It'll have to be short," Josh said, "as we have a possible tenant looking at our apartment at three, assuming it will be presentable by then. After the Ball started working yesterday and were really doing a fine job. A crew worked last night and Kenneth Casey promised we could move back in today, but Luc and Cândido suggested we just camp out with them while all the packing is done. The movers are coming at four to take a look at what we will be moving and what we will be leaving. They will be packing tomorrow."
It was approaching two thirty when the Blankenship group returned to the office and Josh and Alex headed to the apartment.
When they had a look at the job After the Ball had done, Alex said, "Josh, this apartment has never been this clean before, I'm sure. They did an unbelievable job."
"Yeah, it's like it has never been lived in."
"It still says "Josh lives here with Alex," Alex said as he pulled Josh into his arms for a long passionate kiss. Josh could feel Alex's erection pressing against his leg, but also felt Alex start to go rigid. They had assumed intense flashbacks were over for Alex, but the attack had, obviously, had more impact on Alex than either realized. Hoping he would snap out of the attack as he had done several times rather than having a full attack as yesterday, Josh held him, stroking his back and singing softly until he realized Alex was not recovering. He quickly took him to the bathroom and held him for the stomach emptying he anticipated. He was not wrong in his assessment of the situation as he had barely gotten him positioned above the toilet when Alex started explosive vomiting. When his stomach was empty, he relaxed and said, "Beloved, I think we just had a close call."
Josh nodded. "I was just going for the pink pill. Do you think you need it?" He continued to hold Alex and stroke his arms. Alex shook his head. He was relaxed, so he rinsed his mouth, brushed his teeth and then kissed Josh tenderly, with muted passion.
Josh called Mr. VanWinkle to tell him what had happened the previous afternoon and added that Kelly hadn't shown up at his mother's bedside in the evening. Mr. VanWinkle asked if Alex was up for dinner and when Josh asked Alex, he took the phone and assured Mr. VanWinkle he was. Alex especially was looking forward to it because he and Bull had not really had a chance to properly meet each other.
Editors: Jesse and Scott.
As always, I own the copyright, so no use beyond personal copy, without permission. If you are too young or whatever to read literature which may describe explicit sex, don't or take any consequences.
All persons and places are fictional and any similarity to persons or places living or dead is coincidental. Again, it's fiction, folks.