It's All in The Wrist
By Audrey W.
Disclaimer: Pong is a game owned by Atari. It is not a fictional game created by me. I just borrowed the game for entertainment purposes. If you would like to read more on it or play it on the computer, type Pong Game in a search and numerous sites will come up. It was fun to play it again, so you might want to give it a try!
“Hey, Cap!” Marco said. “You see this new game Chet brought in today?”
“I see it. But I’m not sure I like the idea of it being here,” he said, frowning.
Captain Stanley’s comment got Chet’s attention.
“Awe, Cap!” Chet whined. “It’s a great game. . .a good stress reliever for everyone.”
“What is it?”
“Pong!” Chet answered gleefully.
Roy noticed the still puzzled look on Stanley’s face.
“It’s a game that just came out this past Christmas. My kids got it from Joanne’s parents.” Roy shrugged. “It’s a little annoying with the sounds, but it keeps the kids busy. . .could work wonders on Johnny and Chet,” he offered.
The captain snorted at Roy’s remark.
“Well, I’ll let it stay for now. But it better not interfere with any duties around here or it’s out the door, got it?”
“Got it,” Chet nodded.
“Now, whose turn is it to fix lunch?”
“Johnny’s,” Marco answered, glancing at the paramedic still deeply involved in the game.
“He has twenty minutes to have lunch ready or the game goes.”
Chet whipped the control panel out of Johnny’s reach, disturbing his concentration.
“Hey! Whadaya’ think you’re doin’?”
“You gotta fix lunch or the game’s out of here.”
“Oh yeah? Says who?”
“Cap,” Chet answered indicating the man’s presence with a nod of his head.
Johnny turned in his seat and saw that, indeed, Captain Stanley was watching him, a sour look on his face.
“Uh, sorry, Cap!” Johnny grinned sheepishly, as he stood up. “Getting right to it. . .I’m on it now.”
Captain Stanley shook his head as he left the dayroom and headed back for his office, mumbling.
| o |
Later in the afternoon, the lunch dishes were cleaned up and the men had returned from a call to a motor vehicle accident. Johnny and Chet were once again in front of the television. Marco and Mike watched intently as the two men moved their paddles on the screen, trying to block the little white ball from bouncing off the edge of the screen on their respective sides. Roy, having seen enough of the game at home to last a lifetime, sat on the couch reading the newspaper.
“Awe man!” Johnny exclaimed as Chet sent the ball onto his side for the fifteenth time, thus winning the game. “I can’t believe you got those last three by me!”
“It’s all in the wrist, Gage. All in the wrist,” he grinned as he boasted.
“You guys should have a tournament,” Mike suggested.
Marco and Roy both gave a panicked look at Mike as they each had the same thoughts. What was the engineer thinking? Had he forgotten who he was talking to? Of all the times for Mike to be vocal. . ..
“Hey, that’s a great idea!” Johnny said, grinning. “Best of seven. . .whadaya say, Chester B.?”
“You’re on! Best of seven!”
| o |
Johnny was winning game five when the tones went off, calling for the squad. He moaned as he stood up and headed for the apparatus bay.
“We start this one where we left off,” he called to Chet, pointing towards the television screen.
“How can we do that? I’m not gonna let it sit here like this. . .who knows how long you’ll be gone. Or we might get toned out.” Chet shook his head. “Nope, we start game five all over again later.”
“Chet!” Johnny knew he didn’t have time to argue. “Fine. . .we start game five over again. But no fair getting in too much extra practice!”
Chet grinned at the doorway where Johnny had just been. “Sorry, Gage. . .there’s no such thing as too much practice.”
| o |
The paramedics arrived at the scene where an eight-year-old boy had been hit by a car while riding his bike across the street. Luckily for the boy, the car had only been going twenty-miles-per-hour and he hadn’t been injured too seriously. His left arm was broken and he had numerous scrapes on his body and arms. Johnny rode in with the boy, while Roy followed behind in the squad.
“Am I gonna be okay?” the boy asked, his lower lip quivering.
“Yeah. In about six weeks you’ll be back to your old self,” Johnny assured.
The boy still seemed to be in need of some assurance. Johnny tried to think of something to take the boy’s mind off of his current situation.
“Hey, you ever play that new game Pong?” Johnny asked.
“Yeah, I played it.” The boy’s face brightened. “I’m pretty good at it.”
“Yeah? Like how good?”
“I can beat all of my friends at it.”
Johnny was surprised. He didn’t expect the kid to be an expert. Maybe the boy would have some tips.
“Oh yeah?” Johnny said, his interest growing. “Any suggestions on how to beat someone every time?”
“Yeah!” The kid was excited now, his mind off his broken arm and sore body. “Do you know about turning the knob twice to the left, then twice to the right real fast?”
“Huh uh.” Johnny grinned. I’ll be…a trick Chet might not know about. “What does it do?”
“It makes your paddle. . .” The boy stopped talking as the ambulance had stopped and the doors were opened.
Johnny helped to unload the stretcher from inside the ambulance and walked along side as it was wheeled to treatment room three. The boy’s mind now filled with fear and apprehension, the discussion about the Pong game was forgotten.
| o |
When the paramedics returned to the station, the engine was out on a run. Johnny headed for the dayroom, bypassing the chance for a drink and heading straight for the game at the television.
“Don’t you think you should take a break from that?” Roy asked. “After all, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.”
“I just had a break. We’ve been out on a run, remember?” Johnny explained. “Besides, the kid gave me a tip I need to try.”
“You got the kid in on it, too?” Roy shook his head. Only Johnny could get away with that. “I’m just saying, I think you should lay off it for a bit.”
“Yeah, but what if Chet got in a lot of practice before the engine got called out?”
“You ever hear of starting fresh?” Roy questioned. “Sometimes that’s better than practicing too much.”
Johnny gave Roy’s words thought. “You’re right! You’re absolutely right! I’ll wait.” He walked over to the counter and grabbed a glass, then opened the refrigerator and got out the milk. “I can’t wait to try out the new strategy on Chet. He won’t have a clue what’s going on.”
“What is it?”
Johnny paused before answering. “Well, there’s one problem. I’m not really sure. The kid never finished what he was saying. But I can still give it a try.”
Roy rolled his eyes as he poured himself a glass of milk.
| o |
Later in the evening, Chet and Johnny were back at their Pong tournament. Johnny gave Chet a sly grin as he finally tried the twice-left-then-twice-right move with the knob. It didn’t do anything but let Chet get the ball past his paddle four times.
Johnny frowned as he tried it again, still just allowing Chet to get the ball past his paddle.
“What are you doing, Gage? Letting me win?” Chet asked, baffled.
Johnny sighed. “I can’t believe it. I was nice to the kid and he lied to me.” He looked over at his partner on the couch. “You believe that, Roy? The boy we took in today. . .the one I talked to about the game. . .he pulled one over on me!”
“Nah. . .a kid pull one over on you?” Chet said sarcastically. “No way.”
“Shut up, Chet. We have to start game seven over again.”
“Over again?” Chet’s eyes widened. “Sorry, pal, but this is it. I get one more point, I win the tournament.”
“But…but I was given false information!” Johnny argued. “It was sabotage. . .that’s not right!”
“I didn’t sabotage the game,” Chet pointed out. He looked around at the others. “What do you guys think? Shouldn’t this be it?”
“To make it fair, Chet, it should be won on both of you playing it how it’s supposed to be done,” Marco said. “I think you guys should start this game over.”
“Yeah, Chet. You don’t want to win by Johnny’s screw up,” Mike added.
“See? We should start game seven from the beginning,” Johnny said, grinning. He then frowned at Mike when his statement sunk in.
“Okay,” Chet pouted. “We’ll start this game over.”
Roy closed his eyes and rested his head on the back of the couch. Maybe with a little luck he’d fall asleep and when he woke up, this would all be done.
| o |
Chet and Johnny had gone on to play three games beyond their planned seven. Then another call for the station interrupted the Pong games. On the fourth extra game they were toned out once again.
“Man, we’ll never finish this tournament,” Johnny said as he headed for the squad.
“When you two get back, I want this settled this once and for all,” Captain Stanley stated. “And I don’t mean in four more games.”
Both Chet and Johnny nodded, knowing they had better do as the captain asked or they would both be cleaning the latrine next shift.
| o |
“Okay, this is it for sure,” Chet said as he and Johnny returned to their chairs in front of the television. “Whoever wins this one is the champ.”
It was two o’clock in the morning and neither man had gotten any sleep since seven o’clock the morning before. The rest of the crew had given up and gone to bed, figuring their shift-mates had finally lost their minds.
Captain Stanley waited for twenty-five minutes, then got out of bed and walked across the apparatus bay to the dayroom. There he found Johnny and Chet ending a game. Johnny jumped up, his arms thrust in the air as he scored the last point against Chet.
“Yes! I won!” He looked at the sour expression on Chet’s face. “Sorry, Chet, but I won the tournament by one game.”
“Best of five. . .let’s do the best of the next five.”
“That’s it, Kelly,” the captain said. “John won fair and square on the amount of games you two agreed on about four different times. It’s over.”
“But, Cap! I can beat him. . .I know I can! Best of three?” Chet quietly suggested.
Captain Stanley shook his head no.
Johnny patted Chet on the back. “Don’t worry, Chet. Maybe Marco or Mike’ll do a Pong tournament with you next. Just remember what you said earlier if you do it again. It’s all in the wrist, Chester B. . .it’s all in the wrist.”
Johnny headed towards the dorm, a smug grin on his face. Captain Stanley looked at Chet’s opened mouthed expression. He patted Chet on the back.
“You started it, pal. Now get some sleep.”
“Sleep? Who can sleep? Cap, I’m hooked on this game!”
Chet ran for the dorm, calling out for Marco and Mike in hopes one of them would be willing to play the game.
Hank looked at the television and sighed. He walked over and unhooked the game console, carrying it with him to his office, where he stuck it away in a drawer.
“And that’s enough Pong around this station,” the captain said as he turned off the light and closed the door.
Thank you, Kenda, for the beta read and assistance on a complete ending. :o)