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Due South Bits and Pieces

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Ben knew that others tended to think of him as overly tidy, an embodiment of order in just the same way that he was an embodiment of justice while he wore the uniform of the RCMP. They didn't understand that the more disordered he felt on the inside, the more effort he expended to maintain an appearance of order on the outside. This was why he was spending his Saturday night polishing his boots. For the third night in a row.

He had spent the afternoon with Ray and Diefenbaker in the park. It was a beautiful spring day, sunny and warm without being too hot. Ray brought a frisbee and the three of them played like youngsters, Ray feeding Dief bits of their picnic when he thought Ben wasn't looking. It was the sort of carefree afternoon that Ben dreamed of but could seldom have, its perfection marred only by the bittersweet longings that flared in him incessantly. He lost his breath every time a bit of light caught Ray's hair just so, when Ray cheered at an athletic catch by Diefenbaker, when Ray's glorious smile made him look like a peculiarly foul-mouthed angel who had fallen to earth to provide hope and the occasional necessary kick in the head to the hopeless. By dinner time Ben had worn himself to a frazzle and he begged off the offered Chinese food supper with some paltry excuse; he could hardly remember what variation of "duty calls" he'd utilized but it was really all the same. Everything was all the same and to hope for anything different surely not only qualified as insanity but was simply begging for disappointment.

So instead of eating Chinese food with Ray, he neglected to eat at all and polished a pair of boots that already had a high gloss, fighting to discipline his disorderly and disobedient heart. Completing the external rituals of order usually had a calming, ordering effect on his mind, but the trick didn't work as well as it once had. Still, he had discovered that leather could achieve a heretofore unimagined level of sheen. Were he ever in dire straights and in need of some kind of signalling mirror, he would now be well prepared. He supposed that should count as some comfort, at least.