Funeral Rites

Debra Fran Baker

It was another typical grey, rainy Cascade day. Simon Banks picked up the collar of his trench coat and wiped futilely at his glasses as he made his way across the cemetery. It didn't take him long to get to his destination. He'd been there often enough. As he placed the bouquet of lilies on the grave, he thought back to the day he'd lost two good friends; to the day Blair had been ripped from their lives.


The kid had been bouncing around the bullpen, as usual.

"Sandburg, will you sit down?"

"Sorry, Jim. It's nerves. I'm defending my dissertation tomorrow, you know?" Blair sat down at his desk and picked up his coffee cup.

"I know, I know. It's all you've talked about for the past week. At this point, I think all of us would be happy when you get it over with. You'll certainly be a lot easier to live with." Simon agreed. Besides, once Sandburg got his degree, he could work on regularizing his position. Dr. Blair Sandburg. Simon couldn't have been prouder had Blair been his own son.

Blair took a sip of his drink. "Hey, this isn't coffee."

"Nope. You keep telling me how chamomile is nature's tranquilizer." Simon couldn't believe the huge smile on Jim's face, or the answering one on Blair's. He did not want to know exactly how close that bond was. Simon turned towards his office. There was always paperwork to be done. Then he heard Blair fall.

"Chief!" Jim's shout reached across the bullpen as he knelt next to his partner. Simon and Megan joined him. The two of them began CPR, but Jim pulled them away.

"Jim! What are you doing?"

"He's gone." Simon could see Jim fight for control. His eyes glittered with the tears a man doesn't shed. "He's not there anymore. His heart, his breathing, everything just stopped. We're not going to get him back." As Jim cradled Blair's body in his arms and stroked his curls, Simon could see Megan calling for help. Tears were running down her face as she and everyone else stared at the two of them.

"Does...does anyone know how to...reach his mother? Jim?" Jim didn't answer. He was focused on Blair. It wasn't a zone-out, but it might as well have been.

"Captain?" Joel Taggart, his voice thick with grief, spoke up. "I think she just told...him...where she was, and he wrote it down in an address book. I'll...I'll look in his desk." Minutes later, Simon found himself talking to Blair's mother.

"Ms. Sandburg...I have...terrible news..."

"Blair's dead. I knew it! I could feel it! Damn that Ellison for endangering my boy!" She wasn't holding back tears.

"It wasn't Ellison. He just...died. All of a sudden, sitting here in the station, drinking chamomile tea, of all things."

"Chamomile? He's not allergic to chamomile. Simon, I'm flying out there right now. I should be there in a couple of hours. Do not let anyone cut my son open."

"No autopsy?"

"No. Arrangements. Some one has to make arrangements. I have to. Can...can you get me the number of a synagogue?" Simon gestured towards a phone book, which someone handed to him and found three listed. He gave he