Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Everyday Life Series

Traffic Jam V
by Robyn
September 1998

His left elbow propped on the driver's window ledge, Jim sighed -- or rather, groaned -- leaning his head on his uplifted, cupped left hand. He'd just looked at his watch -- again, and realized that they'd been stuck in the jam for so many hours that it was truly beginning to approach an eon.

"If we don't get a move on here pretty quick, I think I'm gonna die of carbon monoxide poisoning, Chief," Jim muttered unhappily.

Blair tittered. "I don't think so, Jim. Do you know how hard it would be for me to drag your unconscious deadweight out of the drivers' seat and into the truck bed? Uh-uh, no way, man."

Jim frowned, pondering his partner's response.

"Besides," continued Blair matter-of-factly, "I have a bad feeling there's a higher power associated with the fact we've been stuck here for so long in the first place."

"Great," Jim groaned. "I knew I shouldn't have dusted that tribal god in the living room last week."

"Dusting's fine, Jim," Blair laughed. "But I think a less vigorous job would've prevented the artifact's red eyeball from falling out."

"Hey! I was just making a gesture of respect!" protested Jim. "Next time I'll sacrifice a tube of super glue to it as an offering. Is that acceptable to you, Mr. High Priest?"

"JIM!" yelled Blair, "of all the irreverent..."

The younger man took a swipe at Jim's arm for the umpteenth time. However, Jim's quicker reflexes succeeded in partially blocking his partner's hand, which ended up landing rather unceremoniously on the truck's horn.

<<HONK!>>

Jim jumped before he could suppress his startlement at the hollow, goose-with-a-bad-head-cold sound and Blair collapsed in a fit of giggles. The driver then yelled a perturbed "SANDBURG!" in between smiling politely at the glares now coming at the pickup's cab from surrounding drivers.

In the large brown van directly in front of Jim and Blair's truck, two heads popped up, one in each rear window.

"Now look what you've done, Bugle Boy," grumbled Jim. "You woke those kids up from a peaceful nap. Their parents are really gonna thank you for that one."

"You started it, man!" Blair said with a hint of righteous indignation in his voice. "Besides," he rationalized, "it's past 10 o'clock now. Time to get up anyway."

The older child, a girl about age eight with light brown pigtails, grinned and waved in a spastically frantic motion at the two men. Her younger brother, about age five, had sandy brown hair and looked blearily out the window. He could only manage to knuckle both eyes before continuing to stare out the window solemnly, as if waiting for his morning entertainment.

Blair grinned and waved back at the two children. The girl put her hand up to her mouth, giggling. "She must be one of those annoying people who manage to be fully awake the minute their eyes open. Kinda like you, Jim."

Jim grunted. "Then I guess you won't have any trouble figuring out who the other kid reminds me of."

Blair watched as the older sister patted her brother's shoulder while saying something and pointing to the two men. Her facial expression changed to one with a smug, confident air.

"Jim," Blair nudged his partner excitedly, "what's she saying?"

<"I bet you I can make that big frowny man smile, Zachary.">

<"Nuh-uh, Annie. He looks like a mean man.">

"Jim! C'mon, I know you can hear them. What's she saying?"

"Nothing, Chief. She's just hungry." Jim proceeded to concentrate further on the morbid expression of his mouth, staring directly at the girl. This is war, thought the detective.

"Oh," said Blair, sounding disappointed.

Suddenly, the girl stuck a thumb in each ear and wiggled her fingers while sticking her tongue out at the same time, looking straight at Jim.

The little brother laughed and Blair giggled before imitating the antics back at her.

Jim continued to frown, his face unmoved.

"Jim?" Blair paused, looking over at his friend.

"Hmm?" Jim grunted through pursed lips.

"Jim, why are you frowning?"

"'m not frowning, Sandburg. Just my usual look."

"Ugh. You do not -- wait a second." Blair looked more closely at his more-morose-looking-than-usual partner, then followed his gaze which led directly to ... the girl in the van in front of them. Now everything made sense. "Ohhhh, I get it now. You two are having a contest."

"'m-hm, and I'm gonna win," said the detective rather stubbornly.

Ordinarily the anthropologist would have taken this golden opportunity to make some profound observation on the global nature of humans to engage in apparently meaningless competitions.

Unfortunately, his train of thought was interrupted when the little brother whacked his sister on the arm and said something. She considered his words, then nodded. The boy then proceeded to pull one arm inside his shirt and out of his sleeve and grasp the now-empty sleeve with the opposite hand. Giggling, he moved his connected sleeves up and down with one arm while using the other to punch out an intermittently appearing bulge from his chest.

Blair guffawed loudly. "Oh man, I used to love that trick, man! Didn't you ever do that, Jim?" He laughed some more, slapping his knee once.

Not breaking his frown, Jim only rolled his eyes and shook his head, although this time he had to look away temporarily by pretending to need to glance in the rear view mirror.

"They're wearin' ya down, man!" Blair laughed, slapping Jim once on the shoulder.

The girl was crossing her arms now, lips pursed in concentration, probably thinking about how the frowning mean man possibly had no sense of humor whatsoever, unlike his friend sitting next to him. Suddenly, her eyes brightened and she raised one finger before disappearing from the window.

"Uh-oh, I just saw a light bulb go on, Jim." Blair tried to speak ominously but still had to stifle a few residual giggles. "This is gonna be a good one -- I can feel it!"

"Shh! Sandburg! I'm trying to concentrate here," Jim muttered. "Whose side are you on, anyway?"

"Hey, I'm just an impartial spectator," Blair said, holding his hands up.

"Yeah, right," said Jim.

Finally, the girl popped up at the window again. She carefully settled herself in front of the window again, closing her eyes and seemingly gathering some kind of concentration before her next, and hopefully victorious, attack to save the man in the truck from his certainly unhappy existence.

A little blonde boy, a not-so-little curly brown-haired young man, and a frowning short-haired man all fell silent, waiting for the next assault, wondering if it would be a successful strike against the Uber-mother of all frowns.

Slowly, the girl grimly produced a black Jags baseball cap and settled it on her head. Looking Jim straight in the eye, she moved her face as close to the window as she could, then proceeded to produce the biggest, ugliest, meanest frown an eight-year-old girl can possibly muster.

The younger man in the pickup exploded into helpless, loud howls, his whole body convulsing, his eyes tearing, his lungs unable to take in a full breath of air for several seconds. Finally, he gasped out a few words. "She's a genius! That's what you look like, man! That's really what you look like!" Blair howled again, continuing to slap his leg repeatedly.

At first, the extra-stern detective continued to just sit motionless. The first manifestation was particularly hard clenching of the jaw. Then his lips twitched, ever so slightly. Then a little more. Then his shoulders shuddered.

Finally, Jim pulled down the rim of his own Jags cap as far as he could in an attempt to hide his rapidly approaching defeat, trying to protect what little dignity he had left in the world.

Fortunately for the girl, the brim was not wide enough to completely hide the extremely large grin that appeared on her vanquished opponent's face. Grinning widely, she turned to her brother and slapped him a high-five, both children giggling.

Chuckling quietly under his breath, Jim looked over at his still-laughing-helplessly partner and shook his head. "I take that back, Chief. You're the one with the carbon monoxide poisoning."

- The End -

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Go to Traffic Jam VI...