Paper Boy by Laurie

Paper Boy - Laurie

Jim cast a longing glance at the conference room door and then surreptitiously checked his watch. He'd been trapped in this meeting for half an hour so far, but it felt far longer.

Simon was droning on and on explaining how the pencil pushers wanted the i's dotted and the t's crossed this week. Jim dutifully marked down what was pertinent to him and ignored the rest of the mishmash of information -- the paperwork details, reminders about upcoming trainings, deadlines, and dates for taking lieutenant and captain examinations. He wasn't interested in another promotion; that path led to a desk job which was the last thing he wanted to be stuck doing -- mostly because it would mean even more paperwork.

No, he was content to be a detective; he was good at it, and he could mostly work alone. After Jack had disappeared, he hadn't wanted or needed a new partner. What he did need was to make some progress on this Switchman case. And that wouldn't happen if he had to cool his heels in this room much longer.

Henri Brown, in the chair next to him, was drawing hula girls on his notepad. Henri and his wife were going to Hawaii next month, and in honor of their dream vacation, H had been wearing the most obnoxious color and pattern clashing Hawaiian shirts that had ever escaped from a thrift store. Jim was sure that if he stared at them long enough, his eyes would bleed. Still, he'd rather look at Brown's train wreck wardrobe choices than listen to bureaucratic bullshit about the change in form 100CR03. It was typical that the paper jockeys only redid the damn thing once everybody had gotten used to the changes from the last time it was 'improved.'

Simon started shuffling papers, no longer speaking, and Jim started to rise, sure that the meeting was finally over. His captain immediately noticed, and made a motion with his hand for Jim to sink back down in his seat.

"Sit down, Detective. We have a visitor, and he has a little presentation to give."

Jim groaned to himself. Whatever this was about, he could tell from Simon's tone of voice that it wasn't anything important or even something Simon cared two cents about. Maybe he could...

"Captain, I really need to check back with Tech Support on those emails the Switchman has been sending me. And see what Forensics has got to say about the evidence from the last bombsite. I can have Brown fill me in on whatever this guy's got to say to us."

"I'm ahead of you, Ellison. Lt. Plummer is still working on compiling the evidence from the Tacoma bombing, and Tech Support is chasing its tail with the ISP bounces. Why don't you get the door for our guest? He's been waiting out in the hall for his shot at telling us about our new initiative. And he has the backing of our division head, so there will be cooperation, detectives." Simon glowered briefly at Jim's fellow sufferers who were sitting at the table or standing along the wall. "Do I make myself clear?"

Nobody answered. But nobody shifted to leave, either.

With a sigh only loud enough for H to hear him, Jim heaved himself out of his chair and opened the door. There was a short kid in his twenties leaning against the wall, with a big orange plastic box at his feet.

Jim crooked his finger at him. "You the one going to give us a spiel?" The guy nodded, his long curls dancing around his face. He picked up the box, and Jim held the door open for him as he pushed into the room.

The visitor placed the box on the table and beamed at the assembled group of bored looking men and women.

Simon dropped his long frame into a chair. Jim suspected he was as tired of being in this meeting as the rest of them, but Simon nodded to the fellow, who smiled enthusiastically before starting his speech.

"Hi, everybody, and thank you, Simon, er, I mean Captain Banks, for letting me speak to you today." A small frown had crossed Banks' face when the kid said his name. Jim wondered about the familiarity. Watch it, Chief. Simon likes to get to know a person before he's okay with being on a first name basis.

The kid gestured expressively as he introduced himself as Blair Sandburg, a graduate TA in Anthropology from Rainier. Jim watched the guy pat the orange box and explain that he was hoping they would all participate in a project that would be effort-free for them and would help save the environment. This young man had hippie written all over him, from his earrings and ankh necklace to the holes in his jeans and patchwork vest; Jim wondered if he ever got profiled and checked out by cops looking for drug dealers. He didn't act worried about being in a room full of cops, though.

Brown interrupted him. "Hey, my man, are you a tree hugger?"

The kid just grinned even wider. "You bet. And what I want to talk to you about is saving trees. The police department has agreed to start a paper-recycling project with Rainer University. All you have to do is toss your unwanted paper into this container instead of the trashcan. I'll be coming by probably two, three times a week to haul it off to the recycling center and leave you guys an empty container. They're made of recycled plastic, by the way. According to Conservatree, a paper consulting group that's a member of The Environmental Paper Network, utilizing recycled office paper can save twelve trees for every ton used if it's at least fifty percent recycled paper."

The hippie waved his hands around indicating just how grand that would be, to save so many trees because of the cooperation of the PD.

"All you have to do is make sure there are no staples in the paper, and place it in this container, which will be kept next to the copy machine." Simon cleared his throat meaningfully, and the guy hurriedly added, "Oh, and of course, nothing confidential should be sent for recycling. That would go in your burn container instead. So, get used to seeing my face around your department. And hey, I know how it is with meetings, since I attend plenty of them myself, so I brought some donuts. I know, I know, you're probably saying to yourselves right now how clich├ęd my thinking is and I swear, I wanted to bring bagels, whole wheat ones, because they are so much better nutrition wise, but then I thought - toaster. Because I didn't know if there would be a toaster available, and while I like to eat un-toasted bagels most people seem to prefer them warmed up."

He had been opening up the orange box as he spoke, and, once it was open, he lifted out two cardboard boxes and took the lids off to reveal buttermilk, plain, and chocolate glazed donuts. He carelessly dumped a stack of napkins next to them. Then, still smiling infectiously, he asked if there were any questions.

There weren't any. Frankly, Jim didn't see a lot of enthusiasm for the guy's little project so he thought about throwing him a bone. He didn't know why he would bother except he kind of enjoyed that look on the kid's face; the one that said the world was a great place and full of wonderful people. It wasn't, and mostly Jim dealt with the not-so-wonderful specimens of humanity like this Switchman bomber. He gave a mental shrug. Oh, what the hell, let the kid do his part in saving the planet. Jim could help him along.

"Look, Chief. Didn't you forget the part of your speech where you tell us about the contest between Major Crime and those bozos in Vice, and Burglary and Theft, and all the other departments you're collecting paper from? Whichever department weighs in with the most recycled paper every, uh maybe two months wins a trophy?"

Sandburg caught on fast and played along. "Absolutely, man. But to keep that trophy you'll have to keep beating out the other departments. I'm sure Simon and all of you guys wouldn't want Major Crime to lose their bragging rights to, say, Harbor Patrol, right? But to be fair, we'll start after I meet with the other departments this week. I'll post a sign by the copy machine with the details. Anybody else have a suggestion or question? No... ? Then dig in, my treat."

Sandburg stepped away from the table and positioned himself by the door, and damned if he didn't manage to get everybody's name before they were able to beat it out of the room. He kept selling the idea Jim had come up with and from the conversations Jim overheard there was definitely some interest in keeping that orange box full, in order to get one over on the other departments. Major Crime had a mean competitive streak; whether it was bowling or baseball, they liked being the top dog.

Jim had chosen a buttermilk donut and was about to join the stragglers heading for the door, when Simon laid a hand on his shoulder. "Jim, since you've expressed an interest in ecology I'm appointing you the Major Crime liaison to Rainier's recycling program." Jim started to protest that he didn't have the time with his new case, but - eyebrows raised -- his captain told him to make the time.

Captain Banks caught the hippie's eye and beckoned him over. "Sandburg, this is Jim Ellison. He's going to be your inside man, so if you have a question or a problem -- go see him. If he needs my input, then he'll talk to me. You do not knock on my door; you do not call me on the phone. You need to liaise about anything, do not bend my ear. Talk to him, instead. Understand?"

"Sure, Simon. Chain of command, hierarchal structure - I understand perfectly. So, Jim, thanks, man, for throwing me that lifeline earlier. What a great insight into motivating a warrior caste to participate. Uh, anything to liaise about right now?"

Simon snorted. "Jim, get the kid an observer's pass since he's going to be in and out of here from now on. I'll be in my office working on leading the warrior caste."

Jim sighed and looked at his new responsibility that Simon had just saddled him with. "C'mon Sandburg. Time for you to meet Vera, the nice lady down in Human Resources, and fill out a shitload of paperwork. I don't know if you'll have to pass a piss test or not, but for now we'll get you some ID. Ever been arrested?"

"Well, not exactly arrested since we weren't charged but my friend Janet and I once chained ourselves to a giant redwood. All the demonstrators were taken to the police station, then later, much, much later, released. Does that count?"

Jim grinned at the kid's tale and steered him towards the door. "No, it doesn't count. So what's your story, Sandburg? How did you get roped into doing this recycling thing?"

"I volunteered, Jim. I firmly believe every person should do their part to help Mother Earth stay healthy."

But something didn't seem quite right to Jim when Sandburg replied to his question. It was the truth, but it wasn't all the truth. Sandburg was being evasive, judging by the small tells in his body language, and Jim resolved to dig a little deeper into Sandburg's reasons for being at the police station.

Still, whatever this kid was hiding, it couldn't be too serious. Jim trusted his gut instincts, and they were telling him that Blair Sandburg, Anthropology TA, was okay.

* * * * * *

Jim left Simon's office angry and tired and scared. Something had happened to him during that four-day stakeout of the Switchman's hideout. He still couldn't believe he'd screwed up so badly and lost the suspect because his senses had zoomed out of control. He couldn't function as a cop when his vision went from being overwhelmed by things that normally he'd need binoculars to see, to being as blind as a bat. The same fluctuations were happening with all of his senses, and damn, he hoped a doctor could find out what the hell was wrong with him. Simon had reluctantly given him time off to get checked out; he'd told Simon he was going to the ER this afternoon. Let the hospital run some tests; see what turned up.

He almost tripped over Sandburg, who was loitering suspiciously close to Simon's door.

"Jim, wow, I really need to talk to you!"

"What do you want, Sandburg? I'm kind of busy." He was tempted to tell the kid to just get the hell away from him, but he was trying not to dump his crappy mood on innocent bystanders.

"I heard some of what you told Simon, I mean, Captain Banks, and I'd like to ask you some questions, okay?"

It was not okay. Bad enough to have this strange shit about his senses happening let alone telling some bright-eyed curious eavesdropper about it. And Sandburg had stepped way too close to him. He'd better get out of Jim's way right now or--"

"Hey, Paper Boy! C'mon, leave Ellison alone. You said you'd help me get my computer back on track." Brown was at Sandburg's side and pulling him away by an arm. He sounded congenial, but he shot Jim a concerned glance. Brown understood what it felt like to be so wrapped up in a case that you were on a hair-trigger and, after stopping at the john earlier, Jim knew he looked like ten miles of bad road. He just wanted to be left alone.

He eyed the kid, who was looking rebellious about H dragging him over to his desk, and gave the other detective a grateful nod. He owed one to Brown for running interference. He didn't mind Sandburg and his chatter usually; God knows, the guy was friendly with everybody in the bullpen, but mostly he'd hung around Jim and had asked him question after question about being a cop whenever the motor-mouth had stopped by to pick up his recycled paper bin. However, if Sandburg had pestered him this moment, he'd have told him to fuck off. Right now, all he wanted was to get cleaned up and find out what the hell was wrong with him.

He'd lost the Switchman today. He couldn't let that happen again.

* * * * * * *

Jim slumped dejectedly against the F-150's seat and closed his eyes. After leaving Simon's office he'd spent the whole day and most of the evening being poked, prodded, and peered at by one medical person after another. And after all that the doctors had found nothing wrong with him -- at least not physically. Schizophrenia had even been considered due to his describing heightened senses and hearing voices. But what he typically would overhear was talk about somebody's favorite sports team or bitching about the latest memo from a supervisor, not voices commanding him to act in a certain way or condemning him for being a lousy human being. Jim had asked a nurse to go out in the hall and say something, and when she'd returned he'd been able to faithfully repeat her words that Jim was a good-looking cop. Seeing the nurse blush had been the only comic relief he'd had all day. Plus, he was rational, not delusional, and able to communicate quite effectively.

So, he wasn't mentally ill. Good to know.

But what was wrong with him?

He opened his eyes. Maybe getting some sleep would help and he would wake up feeling normal again. Yeah. That hadn't worked the previous nights, but Jim would try and believe that fairytale one more time. What choice did he have?

He took his cell-phone from the glove box and checked it for messages. The thing was too clunky to carry around since he couldn't keep it on in the hospital. Simon knew where he'd been. If there was a break in the Switchman case, he'd have called the hospital or sent a uniform over to get Jim.

He retrieved the only message. Sandburg. Why was he calling, and how did he get Jim's cell-phone number, anyway?

He listened to the message and then hit replay in growing anger and annoyance. Why was the little busybody concerning himself with Jim's problems? Sandburg's voice filled the truck cab again, and Jim heard every inhalation and exhalation like his caller was some heavy breather making a pornographic phone call.

Detective Ellison, Jim. I may know what's going on with you, man. I was waiting at Simon's door to talk to him, and I heard what you said. Things don't taste right - too strong or like nothing at all? And your hearing is off the wall? You hear things you couldn't possibly hear from that distance or it's like you've got earplugs blocking normal sounds? And weird visuals? And I'm betting that you're extra touchy-feely right now, too. All five of your senses are out of control, am I right? If I'm right, if I've got you pegged correctly, there isn't a thing a doctor can do for you. You're too far ahead of the curve for that techno-trash. I've got office hours at nine tomorrow. Come to Hargrove Hall and see me, and I'll explain what's happening to you. I'm in the basement, Artifact Storage Room Three, but my name is on the door. Please, Jim. I think you might just be the living embodiment of my field of study. So, okay, bye. I'll see you tomorrow, all right?

Jim deleted the message with tired fury. That pushy little bastard. Jim knew the grad student sometimes spouted off about going on expeditions and studying different tribes and cultures. What did that have to do with Jim? He ignored the thought that he'd spent eighteen months living with the Chopec; maybe he did have a connection since by modern standards he'd lived quite primitively with his adopted people.

He tossed the phone back on the seat and started up his truck. He carefully drove home, squinting at the extraordinarily bright lights of oncoming vehicles and the intense colors of the traffic signals.

God, let things be normal when he woke up.

* * * * * *

After another fitful night of sleep, Jim had changed his mind about going to see Sandburg. Hell, at this point he'd grasp at any straw available. He'd been woken up countless times by sounds that he shouldn't have been able to hear - a baby crying two buildings away, the downstairs bakery's refrigerator making some soft racket occasionally. And he couldn't even drink the coffee he'd brewed this morning; the bitter, oily taste had made him recoil.

So, he'd decided he had nothing to lose by checking out what Sandburg thought was the problem, which was why he was walking down the basement stairs to find the guy's office. The grad student must really rate to be stuck down here.

He'd almost reached the room with the stained glass picture of a wolf and the hand lettered sign with Sandburg's name on the door when he heard voices inside -- Sandburg and a giggling girl. He sighed and went to lean against the wall, waiting for Sandburg to stop flirting and send her on her way.

It wasn't that he wanted to eavesdrop on their little chat. If he could figure out how to control his hearing, he wouldn't even need to find out what Sandburg thought was wrong with him. And he let their conversation flow past him until the words 'police department' and 'recycling program' and 'excellent cover' snagged his attention.

He frowned. And listened.

Okay, Tammy, you can pitch this idea to your advisor just like I did to mine. I need data on closed societies for my independent study and for my diss, and I don't want the subjects to know they're being observed. The cops - man, talk about insider versus outsider thinking. If I had just gone in and asked to study them, they wouldn't have talked to me. But now, to them, I'm 'Paper Boy', and I have a role and a function within the group. I'm the guy who picks up their unwanted paper, and I hang around and watch what's going on between the members of this urban tribe. And the guy they picked to sort of be my partner with the recycling program, man, he's like an uber cop. It's been great talking to him, getting a feel for being a detective, one of society's guardians. And I'm hoping I can use 'the thin blue line' concept in my paper, and for that you really need an inside source.

I've staked out the PD - that's what the guys call it, not the police department - but you could try the fire department or the sheriff's office or the state troopers. Just get with Millie first and let her know you want to help with the recycling project. And hey, it'll be good for your karma, you know. Helping Mother Earth as well as yourself. But you should get a move on, if you want to do it this semester.

Say, what are you doing this weekend? Want to go with me to see the new exhibit at the Burke Museum down in Seattle? It's featuring Shamanism around the world.

Jim walked away then. What he wanted to do was go in there and rattle Sandburg's cage, but there was no reason to scare the girl. He'd wait until she left, and then 'Paper Boy' would get to experience a real police interrogation -- from an 'uber' cop.

* * * * * *

He waited until Sandburg's future Saturday night date walked past him and out into the bright, sunny day, and then he stalked down the stairs, intent on setting 'Paper Boy' straight. He didn't appreciate Sandburg misrepresenting himself to Jim; but oddly enough, he found he didn't really mind if the kid kept up his camouflage act with the rest of the bullpen.

And he wondered at himself for caring about it at all. Sandburg was nothing to him, so where was this sense of ... betrayal coming from? The guy didn't owe Jim anything. But he damn well better come clean when Jim cornered him because he wasn't about to have any more half-assed truths from him. Jim shook his head a little. Apparently his senses weren't the only thing going a little cuckoo on him. Why the hell was he getting so worked up over this kid's cover-up? Did he have some kind of chemical imbalance on top of everything else? Great, just great.

Approaching Sandburg's door for the second time this morning he heard loud pulsing music and drums reverberating from the room, the racket becoming almost deafening as he stepped into Sandburg's office. He had his back to Jim, grooving to the beat, as he no doubt would've put it. Jim thought he moved like an army of ants had crawled up his pants and found their way under his white shirt and colorful vest.

And it made him both angry and worried that Sandburg had his back to the door, oblivious to any crazies that might come into his office. The damn kid needed somebody to teach him to take better care of himself. Or someday Sandburg would find himself trusting the wrong person or getting hurt because he wouldn't recognize a dangerous situation if it jumped up and bit him on the ass.

Mr. Bebop had finally noticed him and turned off his CD player. Jim glowered at him while Sandburg made some inane comments about jungle music, rock and roll, and the Yanomamo headhunters.

And from there the conversation took an even more bizarre turn as the crazy kid babbled about Jim being a sentinel, some kind of a throwback to a more primitive type of man. Right. He'd just called Jim a caveman with whacked out senses.

Jim was in real trouble here; he might not even be able to keep doing his job, and this meddler was telling him he could be a walking crime lab? It felt good to let out some of his frustration, to lift the kid against the wall, to lean into him, and give him some payback for being so damn annoying.

But Sandburg wasn't trying to get away. No, if anything he had pulled Jim in closer to him in order to keep his balance. And here he was, giving Jim lip back, telling him to relax, calling him Joe Friday.

"And why the hell should I trust anything that comes out of your mouth, 'Paper Boy?' After all, you were playing us for fools with your fake recycling program!" But he let the kid's feet touch the ground again and loosened his grip on him.

"Oh-kay. You heard me talking with Tammy, didn't you? But Jim, the program is real; you guys are helping to save trees. And I'm an anthropologist, remember? We study people. All kinds of people, not just tribes like the one you lived with in Peru - man, don't look at me like that; I did my research on you."

The twerp was still close enough to him that Jim could feel every puff of air that accompanied the guy's words. "Anyway, a social organization with such importance in our culture like the police is a great group to observe and try to understand the internal dynamics. I do respect what you guys do; and listen, if you knew the way I grew up with my mom, you'd be impressed that I can honestly say that. And I know what's going on with you, man, and it's got to be related to your time spent in South America. Jim, trust me; I can help you! I even tried to do my original dissertation on sentinels, but after being able to only document people with one or two heightened senses, I gave up and made my committee happy by going with the closed society angle. I think you're the real deal, man. And what an advantage you'd have as a cop - man, you could process so much information at a crime scene or figure out who's lying to you by observing minute changes in their bodies."

Suddenly Jim was tired of Sandburg's bullshit. This clown was making him out to be some kind of superhero, and he knew he was just a regular guy. The senses were a pain in the butt, and he wanted nothing more than to lose them.

Jim pushed himself away from the kid. "I don't need special senses to know when somebody is lying to me - I knew you weren't telling all the truth about the reason you were at the PD. And your behavior is giving me reason to toss your office for drugs because you must be high to think I'm a sentinel." Although Jim didn't smell anything suspicious on Sandburg, and that kind of pissed him off because it was a point for Sandburg's argument. However, Jim's words didn't faze Paper Boy, he kept right on jabbering about what a great thing a sentinel's senses were. But Jim had had enough disappointment for today, so he walked out on him.

He headed back to his truck, wondering what he was going to do now - should he should take a leave of absence or quit the department? -- when a scarlet flash in the sky caught his attention as he strode across the street. The thing spun through air, blinding in the sunlight, and without conscious thought he found himself slowing down, absorbed in watching it dance in the sky. He tracked it dipping and rising with the wind and then he was lost in the color of it and the blue of the sky and nothing else existed...

He came back to awareness as a damn big truck rolled right the fuck over him and -- Sandburg? What the hell were they doing sprawled out helter-skelter on the asphalt? The last thing he remembered was watching that Frisbee sail through the air.

He got to his feet slowly and watched as Sandburg jumped up like he'd been shot out of a cannon and danced around like he was sloughing off the near death experience they'd just shared.

"Oh, man; oh shit, I'm so not ready to die by garbage truck, but I forgot to tell you about the zone out factor - it happens when a sentinel focuses to intensely on something and his senses aren't balanced. Jim - you were so zoned; and man, I couldn't let you be made into road pizza, not when I've finally found a sentinel right here in Cascade!"

The guy had just saved Jim's ass... Jim let out a long sigh and curbed his irritation. Maybe he should listen to Sandburg's ideas; maybe the guy did understand how to help him.

The truck driver, face pale, grabbed Sandburg by the arm, and asked him if he was all right. Then he turned to Jim. "Christ, you just stopped and wouldn't move! What the hell was wrong with you? Should I call the EMTs?"

Jim rolled his shoulders and waved off the driver's concern. "We're fine, buddy. C'mon, Sandburg, let's go. I don't want to answer a bunch of questions." He took Sandburg's elbow and they walked away from the students gawking at them and the rattled driver mumbling about saving himself some grief and just not filling out a report.

* * * * * *

Sandburg steered them towards an open-air market close to campus, and they strolled by craft booths and flower exhibits. Sandburg talked - and talked -- his hands providing the punctuation. By the time they'd meandered from one end of the place to the other and back again, Sandburg coaching Jim on controlling his senses, Jim had made up his mind about what he would do.

"Look, Chief. I get it. I'm a sentinel. You have no idea how I can get rid of these souped-up senses, and since I'm stuck with them I need better control because I can go into a zone if I try too hard with one sense."

"Right. Now, back in the day, when a sentinel would work his deal, he'd have a partner with him, someone to make sure he didn't zone."

"So, that's you; you need to be with me. You've already got an observer's pass; we'll get Simon to okay a ride-along with me until I've got this thing figured out."

"You're asking me to help you; man, I'll want to document it. Maybe I'll do both dissertations - the closed society one and the sentinel one." Sandburg was wearing a fervent look on his face, and it made Jim feel twitchy.

"Whoa there. You've got to keep this between us for now. I don't want every lowlife in town knowing I've got an edge, especially one that's kind of hinky, so you'll have to hold off on any publishing."

"For now that's okay. And you won't be identified by name in my thesis, when I do publish it. Jim, this is so cool; hey, do I get a badge?"

"Nope. But we should see about you going to the academy, like the other cadets."

Jim grinned at the look on Sandburg's face; the kid hadn't realized Jim was teasing. Sandburg going through the police academy - what a concept. He reached out both of his hands and gave Sandburg a gentle pat on each cheek and then turned and walked away back towards his truck.

He could hear Sandburg muttering to himself, something about holy grails and schedules and notifying committee members. Then Sandburg called out behind him, "I'm not cutting my hair!" Jim raised his hand in answer; he could hear the sound of footsteps running to catch up with him.

Sandburg and him - partners of a sort. Well, partners until he could control his senses and didn't need him anymore and the kid had enough information for that paper of his.

They needed each other, but he doubted that they'd ever really be friends.

They were just too different.

* * * * * *

After the Switchman had been caught, after Sandburg had gotten on that doomed bus to try and help, knowing that Jim's old friend's daughter planned to blow it up in revenge against Jim, after Jim had tossed Sandburg, a civilian, his gun to keep the demented woman under control, and after the kid's frantic suggestion that Jim listen for the bomb, not look for it, allowed Jim to find it and safely throw it into the bay, then Jim thought maybe he'd been wrong after all.

Sandburg and him - they were different from each other, sure. A cop who'd seen and expected to see the worst things people could do to each other, and an up-beat graduate student who looked for the best in other people. But so what if they didn't have a lot in common. And they might need each other - the sentinel needed a partner to help him control his senses; the student needed a subject to write about for his thesis - but Jim was tired of basing this 'relationship' only on needs.

No, wants had their place in the universe, too.

He wanted Sandburg for a friend. His partner was brave, smart, and had put himself on the line for Jim.

So, he'd give Sandburg a call tonight. See if he'd like to come over and catch the game at Jim's place. Kick back, drink a couple of beers and argue pleasantly over whatever drifted into the kid's head and out of his mouth.

Just a couple of friends after all, relaxing together -- it sounded like a fine plan to Jim.

He finished his report on the Switchman case and sent it to the printer. After filing the paperwork, he took the extra sheet the printer had spit out, with some gobbledy-gook on it that made it unusable, and dropped it in the orange recycling box on his way to the elevator.

Work was over for the day, and Sandburg should be done with his classes by now.

Time to make that phone call.

The End.

Back to the Gendex

Story Notes: Beta'd by Jane Davitt. Some lines are from Becky's The Sentinel transcripts. Written for My Mongoose Ezine, recycling theme, 2009 Moonridge edition. Thank you to Patt for the cover art.