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Dr. Richard David Kimble is a sound sleeper.

I appreciate that in a man.

At first there was a real effort to make the schedules line up. I mean, we really had to work at it. Richard is an early riser, and I can be too if the need arises - but the U.S. Marshal Service, for me back then at least, didn't keep bank hours. 12, 14 hour days were common. Hell, in my early years, 16 hour days were the norm. But now I have younger kids working for me, a big computer network, an office with a door and a view of the river, and I have a new shiny Chief Deputy Marshal badge that keeps my time measured in increments of case consults, conference calls and evaluation reports.

Now, it's different. Richard usually wakes up first, wakes up early. He believes in the powers of a well balanced breakfast, he told me after my third breakfast in bed. He's fond of whole wheat toast and vegetable stuffed egg white omelettes, fresh fruits with oatmeal and other exotic grasses and grains. On the weekends he'll sometimes break open the ziplock bag of bacon I know he keeps hidden in the back of the freezer.

Richard wakes up first and I start later, and sometimes I get home first and I cook dinner and that's not how it was at the beginning. Before the new badge or the Helen Kimble Community Clinic. At first we really tried to make the schedules line up - but a man has to sleep and personally I prefer my bed over waiting up on the living room couch with the television for company.

Information technology is the workhorse in the district office now and it's easier than it used to be to track down the bad guys. Too bad there are more bad guys, at least that's how it seems. More of them and more desperate and more dangerous. That's when they let me out of that office, for the most desperate and dangerous. When the Big Dog gets a chance to turn a tough case into a teachable moment. I won't lie and say I don't enjoy the recognition, with mandatory retirement creeping closer each year, I know I'm still the best at what I do. Chief Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard still knows how to get his man. Every time.

Richard Kimble is good with his hands. I guessed that the first time I saw them up close. Right now those hands are pillowed under his head, long fingers relaxed against the soft bedding. He'd been in surgery late last night. I remember doing the math once; he averages 4 surgeries a week. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but it comes out to about 200 people a year. That doesn’t even count in the patients that come through the doors of the community clinic Richard opened last year.

Well, that we opened.

He'd thought it was important that my name was on the paperwork and I didn't get it at first because saving lives is his deal and catching bad guys is mine and – it wasn't until the night he brought the filing notices home and laid it all out on the kitchen table, signed all the Xs then passed the papers over me for my John Hancock underneath his that it all made sense.

I'm down there a couple of times a week. Usually Tuesday nights. Technically I'm a consultant, in reality, I come in for the coffee and because Richard is there and because, as word got out, I can count on ending up in the conference room with two, six, sometimes ten kids, just shooting the shit. They tell me what's going on in the streets, at school, at home. I give them my take on it. It's a good break from the office.

Dr. Kimble is much stronger than he looks. Sports strong; tennis and squash and seven miles back and forth along the river bank when he has the time. He gave me a pair of Nike’s for my 50th. He’d ‘make it worth my while’, he’d said and so I started joining him, when we had the time. Running is hell on an old man’s knees. Richard worked on my technique. And he ran slower when I’m was with him.  I figured that out after our second run. ‘It’s not a race’, he’d said when I called him on it; stretched out flat on my stomach on the bed and him above me, massaging out the kinks, making it worth my while. ‘It’s for those times you can’t make it to the shooting range, or the days the corner bakery runs out of your sprinkled donuts. And because you’re a terrible tennis player, Sam.’

Richard is not afraid of the truth.

After the acquittal and the long Devlin MacGregor trial I lost contact with him. He needed to rebuild his life. Quite frankly, I needed the rest too. Back in the very beginning, I understood Dr. Richard Kimble: the fugitive, the falsely accused, the grieving husband, the whistleblower. At his core, Richard's a pretty straightforward man and I appreciate that. But after the chase and the trials and so much time spent together he became complicated. Or, I became complicated. All that interaction had knitted itself into a puzzle that I didn’t want to solve.

Richard is not afraid of puzzles. Three months after Nichols’ sentencing, Richard showed up at the office. We had dinner. The night after that we ended up at his apartment.  

Seven years later and he’s still cooking my breakfast in bed.

Richard still has nightmares.  So do I.

Helen, Newman; fragmented night terrors that can bolt a man upright, sweaty and helpless.  Richard prefers to talk. I told him, the first time it happened, that I don’t mind listening  -and I don’t because we both understand that there was a Richard Kimble before us and then there is my Richard. So I hold him and let him talk himself back to sleep.

And Richard understands that, while he’s knocked one hell of a hole in my defenses, I’m not a talker.  I just need to feel him there with me, just need the reminder that if I did have something to say, he was there to listen.

Seven years, which makes this the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. I’m not an easy man to live with, I recognized that about myself a long time ago and sometimes I see it in him too. He loves to cook, but he’s not so conscientious when it comes to the cleaning up. I know for a fact that we vote on two separate party tickets because he has a tendency to expose his soft spots. Soft spots leave you vulnerable. Soft spots get you killed.

Ah, fuck it, anything can get you killed these days.

I never used to think about that,  about the next seven years.  But now I have a new office and an iPad.  I’m almost maxed out on the GS pay scale and that pasture is looking might green on the other side.

I could practice my tennis game.

There’s no sense in trying to get back to sleep now; the alarm was set to go off in fourteen minutes anyway.

Richard is a sound sleeper, still, I try to keep quiet as I slide out of bed. Daylight Savings time and, through the bedroom windows, sunlight is already threatening dawn.  I have to piss again. Old age is hell on a man’s body. 

Outside the windows Chicago is coming to life with traffic. And Richard is awake.

 

The End