Disclaimer: The Sentinel is the property of Pet Fly.

Author's Notes: In the AOL chat, TrishBSC asked for "something happy." This is what I came up with.

The Better Half



Jim carefully set the cardboard box of young Early Girl tomato plants down over the tailgate of his '69 pickup, and took a deep breath of fragrant, sun-warmed air. It was a beautiful spring day, he had the day off, and where was he?

At the Cascade Botanical Garden Plant Sale. He'd never been here before. Not for the sale. He wasn't even sure if he'd ever been to the Botanical Garden. Seemed nice enough, if you liked this sort of thing.

He'd agreed to it before he realized what he was agreeing to. Sandburg was good at that, sneaking one stray question into an endless stream of chatter, usually before Jim had finished his first cup of coffee. That was how he'd ended up agreeing to that test with the cotton balls and the marshmallows.

Which was why he was spending this morning at the Botanical Garden, surrounded by retired couples, suburban housewives, and the younger, trendier, Sandburg-ish set. Instead of watching the game.

A slot down, a young yuppie was loading a box of his own into the back-seat of a Lexus. He traded a weary grin with Jim, but instead of hiking back toward the tables, he pulled a miniature portable TV set out of the car and started fiddling with it. Jim could hear the tinny announcer's voice from the earpiece, but called "Who's leading?"

The man snorted. "Tiger, who else?"

Jim chuckled and shook his head. The other man looked toward the sidewalk and a petite woman struggling with a large rosebush heavy with pink blooms, and hurriedly put away the set.

"The things we do for our better halves, eh?" He muttered, rushing forward to help his wife.

Our better halves. Jim smiled to himself, looking over at the herb section. Blair broke off a leaf of basil and shredded it with a thumbnail. Jim could smell the spicy tang released into the air. Coupled with the tomato plants he'd just hauled out to the truck, it spoke of homemade spaghetti sauce tailored to a sentinel's palate. Blair put the basil plant into the cardboard box under his arm and looked up, waving to Jim as he headed for the register again.

He sighed, and went to collect the boxful of herbs, knowing that on the drive home he'd be learning their Latin and common names, and the culinary and medicinal uses for each of them.

He could have been home watching golf today. Or out on a course himself. For the first time, he wondered what Blair would rather be doing, if he wasn't determined to get "some tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes, man. If I can tell the difference, you'll be in veggie heaven." And more ingredients to brew up cold cures, since Jim had weird reactions to over the counter stuff.

Neo hippie witch doctor punk. Guide. Shaman. Better half. Jim decided to keep that last title to himself.

~ End ~

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Page last updated 8/15/03.