CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Word Count: 723
If you could read my mind right now… Talk about a conversation when what you said was not what you were thinking.
“I’m fine, Gil.” Ecklie said, addressing the man with more respect than he had given him in a long time. Of course he wasn’t fine. A small, insignificant part of him screamed and screamed and roared with terror and pain, and for a brief moment, he wondered if punching the man standing before him, just to let some of that anger out, would make that small part of his being, feel any better. It wouldn’t, and he had known the answer barely after he had finished processing the initial flicker of the thought. Nothing would ever make him feel better.
The moment itself was nonspecific. A mere meeting in the hallways to exchange trivial information of not really substantial importance. He had handed over some results, or something, to Grissom, because he had been made into the messenger by some lazy lab tech as he passed the DNA lab. Grissom had thanked him, and made the mistake of looking into Ecklie’s eyes. They were empty, cold, and dead, and it had tripped the other man for a moment, looking into the eyes of someone who could, clearly, by past actions, act out a myriad of expressions. Even now, all the pain was hidden by a look of anger and disgruntlement, so he was even surprised he had been able to see so deep into the Dayshift’s mind in the first place.
Their breathing was slow, and normal, relaxed, and yet, behind the eyes of the Dayshift, a sudden rage burned bright and familiar, but not new. The man, the Nightshift, the enemy, knew nothing about real loss, real grief, real pain. He could touch the lives of others, he could, be emotionally attached, could lose and gain, people, co-workers, victims, murderers, could feel so many things, but he would never knew what he, Conrad Ecklie felt.
Grissom held his ground as Ecklie stepped past him and walked away, shoulders tall and rigid, eyes burning bright with all the anger and pain of his past and present. For a brief moment, he could see it through the Dayshift’s eyes. Whatever, he himself knew of Ecklie’s past, however he tried to feel compassion for him, in the other man’s mind, it was indeed, personal. All the terror and pain that Ecklie felt, was his own burden, and not one he had ever shared totally. No matter how the Nightshift could try to imagine it, he knew, he would never completely understand why the man acted as he did, why things had made him the way he was, exactly, why the pieces had fallen in place, just so, to create a life no one should have lived, even if he didn’t know all of the happenings of it, exactly.
That night, in different places, in different times, as each respective man, Ecklie and Grissom, ate their dinners in silence, alone, the first at home, the latter still at work, they thought. Ecklie reviewed the day’s events in his mind, eating silently at the table, the time early, the news not quite on. Grissom ate, and compartmentalised away in his mind, a small core of knowledge, of the pain and terror he had seen in Ecklie’s eyes. There was one shared thought between them at those different dinner times, the thought that, in the years to come, each man would learn more about the other. For Grissom, it interested him, to find out about the inner workings of his rival, and for Ecklie, the thought passed by, and he went and watched the weather report. The thing was, nothing had really changed in that moment that Grissom had stared into Ecklie’s eyes, and asked him “Are you ok?” and Ecklie had lied, saying “I’m fine, Gil.”, with just a bit more respect than he had intended. And, in the years to come, they would learn more about each other, and the store of information about each other, would grow in their respective heads. But nothing would change, because, no matter what Grissom did, Ecklie, was still Ecklie. He had done what he had done, experienced what he had experienced, and the resulting man, would never be friends with the Nightshift. While “I’m not fine.” Had been left unsaid by Ecklie himself, it was those unsaid pieces of knowledge, that really made the most difference, in the end.