CT's New Year's Eve/New Year's Day story challenge to include the following in a story:
1. toilet paper
2. Jim 'owie'
3. a new year's resolution
4. red paint
5. miniature golf
7. boxer shorts
8. "Clue" game
10. a letter
James Ellison squirmed trying to find a little more room against the crate that sat on the seat of the truck between himself and his passenger and partner, Blair Sandburg.
"Sandburg, tell me again why we can't put this crate in the back?"
Blair rested his left arm on top of the crate protectively, "Because it's a rare Mayan artifact and it's on loan to Rainier and until I return it, I am responsible for it's well being and we're not putting it in the back."
Jim was about to reply when his phone rang, "Ellison...We were actually on our way home, Sir..." The detective sighed, "...Where is that again? Ok, we'll stop by and check it out. Yeah, see you in the morning, Simon."
"What?" Blair asked.
"Our serial vandals have hit again, the miniature golf course over by the waterfront this time."
"The one we play at?"
"Yeah, I hope they didn't do anything to the whale on the fifth hole. I like that one."
"Only because you like to watch the whale eat the ball and then shoot it out it's tail."
"No," Jim corrected, "I like it because I can hole-in-one it every time."
"Ok, sure. So, how did Major Crimes end up with a vandalism case anyway? Isn't that more of a uniformed cop on the beat thing?" Blair asked as Jim turned toward the waterfront.
"This isn't an isolated case, Chief. It's a whole string of incidents and that's how it got turned over to us. Beat cops do single incidents, we get repeat offenders, you might say." Jim pulled the truck into the parking lot and stopped.
"Oh man!" Blair's gaze traveled across the golf course, "What would Mr. Whipple say about this?"
All across the side of the club house in bright red letters had been painted, "We dared to squeeze the Charmin!" Both men climbed out of the truck and slowly walked toward the course.
The entire area had been covered in toilet paper. It hung from the trees and blew gently in the breeze from poles, obstacles, awnings, even the whale's tail had not escaped being draped in the billowing white paper.
Jim addressed the young man who had been obviously awaiting their arrival.
"Detective Ellison, Cascade PD. This is my partner, Blair Sandburg. Was anything damaged?"
"I don't think so. We'll just have to repaint the club house, it needed it anyway."
"Anybody see anything?"
"No, it was like this when I came in to open this afternoon.
Jim nodded and without another word headed into the jungle of TP.
"Uh, we're gonna look around and see if we can find any clues to tell us who might've done this." Blair explained.
"OK, knock yourselves out."
The guide followed his sentinel down the "B" course. Blair watched as Jim paused every few steps to listen to this or look at that. As they rounded the 8th hole, something caught Jim's nose. He sniffed again and tracked it to the hole. He knelt expecting to find a ball. He was shocked to pull out a set of dentures.
"Well, Chief, either we've got a really old vandal or this isn't a clue."
He held up the teeth for Blair's inspection.
"So that's where those got off to," the attendant chuckled. "Mr. Brooks lost those a week ago and we've been pulling the place apart looking for them. Every time he gets a hole-in-one, he gets so excited that he opens his mouth to holler and his teeth fall out." The kid smiled sheepishly and held out a handkerchief.
Jim dropped the teeth into it. "Can't say the Cascade PD doesn't aim to please."
They continued around the course but found nothing.
"Not even a fingerprint "Jim sighed. "The place is clean just like the others. They must be wearing gloves."
Ellison paused next to the attendant waiting for them at the entrance. "A uniformed policeman and a forensics team will be along to take your statement and dust for prints. You should wait until after they leave before you start the clean up."
"Ok, I'll be here, I'm here until 9PM anyway."
"Thanks, Come on, Chief, let's go home."
After dinner Jim flopped onto the sofa and picked up the remote. He glanced down at his partner and guide. Blair was sitting on the floor, his back against the sofa. He was unpacking the crate with great care. He pushed aside the straw packing material and pulled out possibly the ugliest statue that Jim Ellison had ever seen.
"Chief? What is that supposed to be?"
"It's a Mayan Fertility God."
"I hate to ask this, but what does that have to do with Sentinels?"
"It has nothing to do with sentinels and everything to do with the class in Mayan Anthropology I'm teaching next semester."
"Oh, that's a relief. I was afraid you were going to tell me that guy was an ugly, fat sentinel with a really big...nevermind. " Jim changed his mind about watching TV and sat the remote down, "I think I'm going to go to bed and read a book. Enjoy your new little friend, Chief."
"Night, Jim." Blair was too engrossed in examining the statue to even look up.
Jim lay in bed listening. He'd read for about an hour and turned off the light after he heard his roommate go to bed. A cloak of darkness descended over the loft and then it had begun. The lonely song of a single cricket. Jim tried to tune it out but the sound continued to penetrate his sensitive hearing. It was all he could hear. He tried to focus on the sleeping body in the room below him, the neighbor's fighting two lofts over, the traffic outside on the street but still the cricket's chirping was not to be tuned out. With disgust the sentinel threw off the covers and sat up. He'd have to hunt it down. Without bothering to pick up his robe, he padded down the stairs. He paused at the bottom to gage distance and bearing. He had to wait a moment before the creature made noise again. There, a faint shuffling only audible to sentinel hearing, it must be under the sofa.
Ever the hunter stalking his prey, the sentinel silently stole around the sofa, ready to spring into motion at the first sign of his quarry. Suddenly, the hunter found himself tripping and falling. He twisted trying to cushion his fall and succeeded only in causing intense pain in his left foot. He hit the floor hard and it knocked the wind out of him for a moment. Jim rolled to his side and shifted to get up. The effort sent excruciating pain shooting up his left leg from his ankle. He'd definitely injured himself. He rolled to a sitting position and took a good look at what he'd tripped over.
He had to yell three times before the light came on in the downstairs bedroom.
"Sandburg, get in here!"
Blair peeked around the door, "How come you're up in the dark? Do you know what time it is? We just went to bed."
"I'm just out here tripping over your toys."
Blair walked around the table and clicked on the lamp. "That's not a toy. It's a Mayan Fer--"
"I know what it is, Sandburg. I thought you agreed to keep all you stuff in your room and not leave it laying all over the loft?"
"I'm sorry, Jim." Blair ran a hand through his hair. "Jim? Are you going to get up?"
"What do you mean, you can't?" Blair asked now instantly awake.
"Hurt my ankle when I fell, can't put weight on it."
"Oh man, I'm sorry. Let me see." Blair flew around the sofa and kneeled beside his friend. "It's swelling and it's already looking bruised. We'd better have this x-rayed. I'll get a bandage." Blair headed for the bathroom.
"You'd better get me some jeans, too."
Blair turned back toward Jim, "Huh?"
"Well, I'm not going to the ER in my boxer shorts, Chief." `
"Right, I'll take care of that, too. Be right back."
Jim slid over to the sofa and pulled himself up on it. Then, he eased his aching left foot up onto the coffee table before sinking back against the cushions.
Blair tossed an ace bandage on the sofa beside him on his way upstairs. He grabbed a pair of Jim's jeans and a plaid flannel shirt and as an after thought picked up a pair of socks. He ran down the stairs with his arm load of clothes to find Jim wrapping his own foot. "Let me do that," Blair bustled around the sofa, deposited the clothes and took the bandage from Jim.
"Make sure it's tight or the foot won't be immobilized."
"I know, I know."
Jim slipped on the shirt over his undershirt as Blair finished wrapping his foot. then, it took both of them to get Jim into the jeans. Blair had been sleeping in a sweatsuit so he didn't need to change. He left Jim pulling on a sock on his right foot as the guide walked to the door and retrieved their coats and shoes. He sat beside Jim and slipped on his hiking boots while Jim put on his right shoe, leaving the left one on the floor.
"Ready?" Blair asked.
Jim nodded and stood on his right foot, holding up his left. Blair slipped an arm around his waist while Jim took a firm hold on Blair's shoulder and they began the slow journey down to the parking lot.
The next morning found Blair cooking breakfast while Jim sat at the table talking on the phone, foot in a purple brace and propped up on a neighboring chair, crutches leaned against the table.
"...I had a fight with a fertility god and lost, don't ask, Simon, just don't ask. We ended up spending the entire night at the ER, waiting to get in, waiting in x-ray, waiting again. Everybody who was injured in that bus accident got put in ahead of us. It's been a long, long night. We just got home...Yeah, Simon, I will. See you on the 2nd." He clicked off the phone and set it on the table. "Well, Chief, there's one good thing come out of this. We've been taken off the petty vandalism case. Simon's giving it to H and Rafe. Of course, we'll probably be stuck at the station doing everybody else's paperwork for the next week or so while I can't chase criminals."
Blair chuckled, "I can just picture you chasing after some guy on your crutches, but you got today off, right?" Blair asked as he set the two plates of scrambled eggs and toast on the table.
Jim nodded, "Yep, I get to spend New Year's Eve making you fetch and carry for me."
"I suppose that's fair as long as I get to sleep awhile first."
"You're one to talk, you got to nap while I was in X-ray," Jim groused. "Now," the sentinel pointed his finger at his guide, "What's your New Year's Resolution going to be?"
Blair dutifully raised his right hand, "I resolve never to leave any ancient Mayan fertility gods in the living room unattended again."
A knock sounded at the door. Blair hopped up to answer it. He returned with a box, checking the label, "Hey, it's from my mom." Blair tore into the package and pulled out a long, thin box and sat it on the table, "Clue? It's a Clue game."
Jim peeked over the cardboard box, "Clue? As in Mrs. Peacock did it in the library with a candlestick?"
"Yes," Blair skimmed the letter that had accompanied the board game, "She says it's to help hone my detective skills." He grinned.
Jim pushed himself up from the table and picked up his crutches, "Sounds like a nice, quiet way to spend New Year's Eve at any rate, Chief." He slowly made his way over to the sofa and lowered himself down.
"Hey, you're not going up to bed?"
"Too tired to try the stairs, probably end up breaking the other ankle."
Blair finished up his breakfast and cleared the table. He picked up the blanket off the back of the sofa and spread it over his friend.
"You need anything before I go to bed?" Blair asked.
"No, 'night, Chief."
Silence once again descended over the loft, until the nerve-grating chirp of a lone cricket sounded and shattered the silence.
24 December 1999
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