Trash Man by Kerensa

Trash Man - Kerensa

Jim heard the front door to the loft close in a stealthy, almost sneaky manner. Of course, it was just Blair shutting the door quietly, but to Ellison’s overactive imagination, there was a more sinister sound to it.

The Sentinel pushed back the covers and while keeping a watchful ear on his lover, dressed quickly in the clothes that he had prepared the night before. Now, Jim wasn’t being stealthy, no, he was doing reconnaissance. He just had to know where his young lover disappeared to each Saturday morning.

Ellison didn’t know how long it had been going on, but about a month ago he had realized that Blair got up out of their bed, at a very early hour, and disappeared for a while. Jim had tried asking subtly—and yes, he could do subtle when he needed to—and asking outright. Blair never lied, but he always managed to deflect the topic and never really answered either.

Jim hurried out of the apartment, making sure to lock the door as he exited, and raced down the stairs. Blair was just leaving the parking area when the Sentinel peeked out of the door to the apartment building. The younger man wasn’t looking behind him, but rather making sure it was safe to head out onto the street, so it was easy work for Jim to get in the truck and follow along behind him.

The next hour was one of the most frustrating that the detective had ever spent. Jim had followed Blair to two different houses, both just down the block. The Sentinel had thought his worst fears had come true at the first house. Blair’s knock at the door had been answered by a young, and very pretty woman, who seemed delighted to see Blair.

‘And who wouldn’t,’ Jim’s traitorous mind supplied.

But then two little children, both boys, had tumbled out of the house behind their mother and enveloped Blair in a hug. The children didn’t fit with Jim’s idea of a secret rendezvous.

While Blair was having his knees vigorously hugged by the little kids, the mother had disappeared back into the house. She reemerged a few minutes later and handed out two rather large, black plastic bags to the grad student. Sandburg said his goodbyes to the young family and headed back to his car. The bags were stowed in the trunk of his Volvo before Blair walked to the adjoining house.

Ellison watched in amazement as the scene, minus the kids and the hugging, was repeated with an older man. He wasn’t that old though and Jim could feel the jealousy starting to rise in him, like sap surging up in a maple tree. And then, another man appeared in the open doorway. He was a few years younger than the first man, but still considerably older than Blair. The second guy lovingly wrapped an arm around his companion. It was easy to see that they were lovers and Blair was just a friend.

This time, several brown paper bags were handed out to Blair. The younger of the two men helped Blair carry the bags to his car. Blair placed them in the back seat before driving off with a wave.

By the time this procedure had been repeated several more times, Jim was perplexed. He was particularly surprised when Blair stopped at the recreation room for a Senior Citizens Living Center—a group of apartments for elderly or disabled persons—where he was also warmly greeted.

“At the next stop, I’m going to get closer,” Jim stated. “I have to know what’s going on here.”

Of course, the Sentinel could have dialed up his sense of hearing and listened in on any of the conversations, but…Jim hadn’t thought of that. He was chagrinned to realize that he had forgotten all about being a Sentinel and what that entailed.

“Criminey, I’m an idiot sometimes,” he complained to himself.

Tap. Tap.

Ellison jumped when someone knocked on the passenger side window. He looked over at Blair. A Blair who was standing, arms folded, staring at him with a knowing look on his expressive face. Jim grinned sheepishly and reached over to unlock the truck door.

“Hi, Chief,” he said quietly.

“Jim.” even Blair’s voice sounded disappointed.

“Uh. I can explain,” the Sentinel started. ‘Just as soon as I think up an explanation,’ he continued internally.

“Uh huh.” Blair leaned in the open doorway and waited while Jim thought. “So, you followed me.”

“No! I, uh… Well, yes, I did. I had to know where you went each Saturday morning.” He cringed at how obsessive he sounded.

“So, you didn’t trust me. ‘Oh, nice!’*” Blair quoted, in a British accent, riffing off of one of his favorite British comedy actors.

Blair nodded, his arms still crossed. “It took you long enough.”

Jim’s mouth fell open. “You knew I’d follow you?” he asked in surprise.

Blair rolled his eyes. “Of course I did.” The younger man gave a snort. “I know you. You are one possessive bastard, especially where I’m concerned.”

Ellison bristled for a moment, but he had to concede that Blair was right. He needed to be aware of where Blair was and what he was doing on any given moment during the day. Jim wasn’t sure how Blair stood the constant scrutiny, because the Sentinel would have gone crazy after just a few days of being watched the way he kept an eye on Blair.

“You’re right,” Jim conceded with a sigh.

The younger man snorted and shook his head, making his long curls swish on the collar of his jacket. “I know I am.”

Jim wanted to be mad, but since he was technically the one in the wrong, he really couldn’t say anything. Belatedly, Ellison looked around the parking lot he’d followed Blair into.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“The recycling center,” Blair stated, tilting his head to one side and raising his expressive eyebrows.

“The…what?”

“The recycling center,” Blair repeated patiently. “I take our plastic, glass, newspapers, cans, etc. here every week. Man, there’s no sense that stuff piling up in a landfill somewhere.”

“And all the stops?”

“Was me picking up the recycling for a few of our elderly neighbors. Mrs. Jenkins’ husband is in Iraq and she’s got those little kids to keep her busy. I found out the folks at the senior housing center had no way of getting rid of their stuff, so I volunteered to pick it up too.”

Ellison nodded. That sounded just like his lover; doing something so completely unselfish, and on his day off too.

“So, why didn’t you tell me?” he asked.

Blair shrugged. “I don’t know. I know how much you need the time off and, after all, I was the one who offered to do it.”

Jim pulled Blair in for a long hug before kissing his temple. The Sentinel gave his lover an affectionate swat on the butt, making Blair yelp, even though it wasn’t rough or anything.

“Chief. You need the rest too. I’ll help you. We can get it done quicker and if we use the pickup, we can get even more.” The Sentinel could see that the backseat of Blair’s car was brimming full, the front seat too, and he remembered that the anthropologist had placed quite a few sacks in the trunk as well.

“Cool,” Blair said with a happy smile. “Anything to help the environment.”

Ellison nodded. “Yeah. I’ll do my part to ‘live green’, but I draw the line at painting Sweetheart that color.

Blair laughed all the way into the recycling center, as Jim knew he would. The next Saturday found the two of them loading up the back of the Sentinel’s truck, although it was a little later in the day before they started out.

The End.

Live Green.

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Acknowledgements: Thanks to mom. The story was all her idea. Thanks to my beta, Bobbie and thanks to Patt for the cover.

Note: * This is a quote from the character Onslow from the British comedy series, Keeping Up Appearances.