Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.
A Man of Action
Okay, I'll admit that when Sandburg first did his puppy dog eyes trick and begged me for a place to stay for a week, I wasn't thrilled. It wasn't just him, it was that monkey, sorry, Barbary ape, of his too. I mean, I like my own space. No one to argue with, no one to give you any hassle...and then I went from living alone to living with a motor-mouth grad student and an ape. Bit of a difference.
As it turned out, it wasn't too bad. Okay, I could've done without Larry trashing the place (twice), but I could tell that Sandburg felt really bad about it and he replaced everything that got damaged, even though he didn't have the spare cash, so I let it go. Larry was returned to his former owners and it was just me and Sandburg. Now, the week's up and I've gotta admit, I'm gonna miss him.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not planning on picking out matching His 'n' His towels. As far as I'm concerned, Sandburg's missing a few essential components to ever qualify as a lover of mine. He's not female, for instance. But he's handy to have around, he's entertaining in a Discovery-Channel-meets-the-Marx-Brothers kind of way, and he can cook. Man cannot live by Wonder burger alone, although I'll deny that if Sandburg ever finds out. And...okay, I like the kid, so sue me. It's just...nice to come back to the loft and know the evening won't be filled with silence or the impersonal sounds of the radio or TV. Instead, there'll be Sandburg, wittering on about some obscure tribe in South America whose method of dating involves coconuts and orang-utans. Don't ask. That's one mental image I'd love to lose forever.
And it's not just for my benefit. Sandburg was living in a warehouse, for God's sake - a warehouse with rats. Big ones. It was really a blessing in disguise when the damn thing blew up. And he's a trouble magnet. First day I took him to the station, it was taken over by Kincaid and his cohorts. The first day! Not the second, nor the third. You'd think Kincaid knew he was going to be there and decided to throw him a welcome party. And, of course, out of all the hostages, who does Kincaid choose to take with him? You got it - Sandburg! So really, I'm doing him a favour by keeping my eye on him. God knows what kind of trouble he'd get into if he was living alone.
Anyway, I've always believed that actions speak louder than words, so just explaining to Sandburg that I like having him around and that the spare room really wasn't being used for anything important, well, that's not an option. So, my problem is, how do I get Sandburg to stay?
Well, it looks like I've already screwed up on this. I made a 'courtship ritual' comment to Sandburg and he's stepped up his search for a place to stay. Way to go, Ellison!
Okay, nothing to worry about. I'm ex-Covert Ops, I'm an ex-Ranger - I can out-think and out-manoeuvre one apartment-hunting grad student. All it takes is a bit of planning.
Sandburg's circled a few apartments in the 'to rent' section of the paper. Let's see...nope (too much crime in that street alone), nope (above a liquor store? Asking for trouble), nope (bad area), nope (oh please...sharing an apartment with seven other people? Even I'm not that bad to live with). Guess Sandburg will have to wait for tomorrow's paper and check again.
Well, it looks like we have a winner. The area isn't great but it's not that bad, the apartment isn't so small you could use it as a closet, the rent is reasonable and the landlord was sober and drug-free. Of course, I looked pleased for Sandburg's sake, what else was I going to do?
I guess bribing the landlord is out of the question.
Woohoo! Sandburg's new apartment is not his any more - and it's definitely not new any more. There was a fire and that part of the building was damaged. The landlord phoned and apologised to Sandburg today. Fortunately, Sandburg was still waiting to move into it so he didn't lose anything this time around. Well, apart from the apartment itself that is. There is a God, after all!
Don't look at me like that. No one was hurt, it was just Sandburg's apartment that was damaged. And no, I didn't have anything to do with it either. I might not want him to move out but I wouldn't commit arson to stop him.
The day the landlord phoned wasn't a good day for Sandburg. He'd had a run in with the dean at Rainier about his car not looking presentable enough to be in their parking lot. He tried the old "it's a classic" argument but she didn't buy it. Actually, Sandburg's the only one who believes that argument, the rest of us know it's a pile of junk that breaks down far too often for my liking. However, that's beside the point. It's his car and he drives it, so what's it to them if they don't like it? Bunch of snobs, if you ask me.
Then I came back late from the station and found him sitting outside the door as he couldn't get in. For some reason he hadn't put that spare key I gave him on his keyring and he'd left it behind when we left this morning. He joked around about not needing the key for much longer as he'd soon be "flying the nest", then the landlord phoned and told him the bad news.
I tried to keep the smile off my face as Sandburg apologised, apologised, for not being able to move out after all. When he'd finished, I took his keys off him and put the spare key on his keyring and told him he'd better not leave it behind again or the neighbours would be calling the cops the next time he spends an hour and a half looking like Orphan Annie outside my door. After that, I ordered some Chinese to cheer him up. A Chinese meal, by the way, not people, although I know Mr. Wong has a great sense of humour.
So, I think I've done it. I mean, I put the key on his keyring - that's a big hint in anyone's book, right?
Well, it's obviously not a big hint in Sandburg's book; he's still looking for an apartment. What do I have to do to convince him to stay? If he keeps this up I might actually have to talk to him about it!
Hopefully the next step in my campaign will convince him. Not even Sandburg can miss this hint.
You know, it's weird. If I was a Chopec, I know for sure that Sandburg would have sussed out my motives long before this and be writing a paper about a Sentinel's need to have his Guide near at hand - not that that's what this is about. Sandburg being my Guide is neither here nor there...I've just got used to having him around, that's all. But because we're in Cascade and not the jungle, he's totally oblivious to it and keeps on buying the local paper to see if anyone's advertised yet another hellhole for rent.
Oh for crying out loud! What is with this kid?
I took down that orange curtain which was all that was providing him with some privacy in his bedroom and put up a pair of solid wooden doors with glass panels to let the light in. In some cultures, that would be a proposal of marriage, but what does Mr. "I have more qualifications than the entire Cascade PD combined" assume? He assumes that he's making too much noise and that he needs to find a place to move to even more quickly. Sandburg, I'm a Sentinel...I can hear a gnat burp at fifty paces, do you honestly think I don't hear everything you do?
Okay, fortunately for me, I didn't actually say those words. I don't want to freak the kid out into moving into a homeless shelter to get away from me, and I'm pretty sure he would if he realised how much I do listen to him. Is it my fault I like the sound of his heartbeat?
So he comes in, sees the doors, reacts badly and whirls out again before I can find my voice enough to lodge a protest with the Sandburgian Consulate. In fact, I don't think I manage to pick my jaw up until he's on his way back up the stairs and talking to himself about how there aren't any new rentals since yesterday and, oh man, Jim's gonna be pissed.
It isn't until he gets into his bedroom, still barely saying a word to me, that he sees the bedroom furniture I've put in there. Nothing fancy, just a couple of bookshelves, a dressing table and a bedside locker, but enough to make it more comfortable for him. Anyway, he stops and looks back at me with a confused look on his face.
I point out that I'd found the bookcases in the basement, and Henri had been selling off a dressing table and bedside locker cheaply, and as they're solid wood, they'll last for years and it would have been a crime not to buy them. And the room couldn't have been that comfortable to stay in with all of his stuff piled up here and there, and how he managed to find anything was a mystery to even Sentinel eyesight and how he needed a bedside locker even if he didn't think he did. I stop talking when I realise that he's grinning at me.
"You want me to stay?"
He sounds so delightfully surprised about it, like no one has ever wanted him to stay before.
"Well, the room's sitting empty so I might as well collect rent on it. And it's better than all of those so-called apartments you were looking at. Some of them were no better than that warehouse!"
He carries on grinning at me as he puts the local paper into the recycling bin. "Okay."
So, there we go. Sandburg's staying and I barely had to say a word to persuade him.
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