Just Another Day

By Gil Hale – corbidae@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: Characters from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions and are used without permission but with no intent to defraud.


The hot water ran out before Blair had finished his shower; the coffee tasted to Jim of tar and sludge; they had a short but heated argument about who could have allowed a green sock into the same wash as Jim’s (previously) white shirt, and the Volvo wouldn’t start…

Just another morning at 852 Prospect.

Jim was late after dropping Blair at Rainier and had to share the elevator at Major Crimes with a perspiring sergeant whose body odour could have felled a whole tribe of sentinels. He managed to dial it down, and a quiet, mostly-ignored, part of his brain sent a small thank you to Blair.

Blair had a brief and nasty encounter with another grad student who blamed him, unjustly as it happened, for the fact his girlfriend had seen sense and ditched him. The guy was built – in the immortal phrase Blair had once heard from a Glaswegian academic – ‘like a brick shit house’, and Blair had to suppress the unwanted thought that at times like this a muscle-bound sentinel was just the right companion.

Jim got stuck with a case that should never have come to Major Crimes, only the victim was the Mayor’s niece.

“We don’t even know that it was meant as a threat!” he protested to Simon.

“It was a dried vulture head,” Simon said forcibly. “It’s upset the lady and the Mayor has told the chief that in his book that’s a major crime.”

Jim went irritably to his desk to read the scanty case notes. Dried vulture’s head, hung in small jute bag on victim’s doorknob, resulting in hysterical phone call to indulgent uncle. He decided to see if Sandburg was busy – weird was his world, not Jim’s.

Blair gave an inspired class to a stolid mass of students who watched him with hungover apathy and winced when his voice rose. They didn’t even laugh at his jokes! He went down to his office and found the normal state of organised chaos had been turned into a disorganised trash heap. As he stood there, dismayed, a voice behind him said, “So, how do you like it when someone messes up your life?”

Blair turned and found his brick-built persecutor looking as if he planned to add grievous bodily harm to the almost-equal crime of grievous research wrecking.

Jim’s mood had not been improved by the Cascade traffic. He reached the basement just in time to hear Blair trying to reason with some sociopath while his heartbeat hit panic speed. It was one of those days when Jim just didn’t think it was worth asking first. He flexed a muscle or two and enjoyed himself.

“Jim!”

Still enjoying himself, and there were no witnesses…

“Jim!”

Reluctantly Jim dropped the sociopath at Blair’s feet.

Blair was irresistibly taken with the idea that this was like a great cat bringing a monstrous rodent to be admired, but had to put the thought aside for later.

Spluttering incoherent threats, the grad student scrambled away from Jim and disappeared. Jim let him go rather regretfully.

“I could probably arrest him for something?” he muttered.

“He didn’t actually touch me,” Blair said, fairly. “Though he’s made a hell of a mess of my papers.”

“How can you tell?” Jim asked callously. “Look, Chief, if you don’t have to sort them just now, let me buy you a coffee and tell you about this crazy case Simon’s dumped on me.”

Coffee did seem more appealing…

Blair filtered out Jim’s eloquent views on Simon, the police chief, the Mayor and the Mayor’s niece, and realised that he could actually be helpful with the original problem.

“Jim – I think there may be a bit of a misunderstanding here. A dried vulture’s head is actually a good-luck charm in South Africa. Especially for gamblers I read somewhere. Maybe someone was trying to do this lady a good turn.”

Jim gaped at him for a moment; he looked rather like Blair’s morning-after students, but recovered more rapidly. Walking outside he pulled out his phone and made a couple of longish calls, while Blair finished his coffee, people-watched,  and noticed with disbelief that his recent aggressor was actually getting sympathy from the girl Blair had been supposed to have lured away. Oh well, at least that might mean an end to hostilities.

Jim came back, looking pleased. “Well done, Chief. Looks like you solved it. She’s off to Vegas next week and knows a South African guy who ‘kind of likes’ her! She also says her uncle will be so pleased we solved it so fast. I think I’ll let that filter back to Simon through the usual channels. Thanks.”

“One good turn…” Blair said. “You fight my battles; I solve your cases!”

Just another working day, in fact, for sentinel and guide.

Jim finished work early, because Simon – O ye of little faith – had expected him to take more than a morning to solve the case and raise their standing with the mayor and had assigned all the other cases.  As he left it occurred to him that Blair really deserved some tangible sort of thanks for his role in this success.

Blair spent most of the afternoon restoring order, or at any rate less chaos, to his room, but just before he left he checked his mail. To his surprise he found he’d had a paper accepted by a journal which if not actually prestigious at least had a name other anthropologists would recognise. He decided to celebrate by buying Jim a new, perfectly white, shirt on the way home.

Outside the loft, he found that Jim had used sentinel hearing to detect some microscopic electrical fault that was screwing up the Volvo’s systems, and even better, had fixed it.

They ordered take-out, and afterwards Blair read a book he’d found at the bottom of the paper pile and Jim watched hockey.  Blair glanced up a couple of times as the noise from the screen rose, and enjoyed the sight of Jim getting a chance to have an evening off ; Jim looked away from the game a couple of times to smile slightly at Blair sitting in some weird yoga position with his glasses slipping down and totally engrossed in his book.

The best kind of evening at 852 Prospect.