By Audrey W.
“So what’re your plans for today?” Roy asked his partner as they headed for the rear lot after getting off duty. Station 51’s men of A-shift had just finished an unusually slow shift that seemed unending and were ready for a twenty-four hour break.
Gage shrugged. “Other than a few loads of laundry, not much.”
“Well, if you want, bring your laundry over and do it at our house. We aren’t doing anything special today.”
“Thanks for the offer, but I don’t think Joanne would appreciate me using her washing machine. I did some work on Bellingham’s car the other day,” Johnny explained, “and I got my clothes pretty greasy. You remember how upset she got last time I washed clothes like that at your house.”
Roy nodded. “Yeah, I do. I’d be sleeping outside with the dog,” he said grinning. “Okay, well, if you wanna come over when you’re done, you’re more than welcome to.”
Gage stopped walking, which caused Roy to stop as well. Standing in the parking lot, the younger man gave his partner a suspicious look.
“What’s up? Your mother-in-law in town again or somethin’?”
Roy laughed off the suggestion. “We haven’t done anything together lately and the kids haven’t seen you in awhile. So I thought today you could stop by and stay for dinner or something.”
Johnny grinned and knowingly nodded. “How long is she here for?”
“I thought so.”
“How’d you know?”
“Whenever she comes to stay, you always invite me over at least once to take the heat offa you.”
Roy grimaced. “That obvious, huh?”
“Yeah, but that’s okay,” Gage said as he started towards his Land Rover again. “I’d probably
do the same thing if I had a mother-in-law.”
The two men each got into their respective vehicles and went their separate ways. One trying to figure out another strategy to avoid his in-law’s scrutiny, the other wondering if he had enough detergent to wash a few loads of laundry.
Using a large plastic laundry basket, Johnny carried his dirty clothing down to the laundryroom at the apartment complex where he lived. Entering the room, he saw none of the four washing machines there were in use.
Great! Everyone else must be at work this morning.
Johnny set the basket down and picked up the detergent box he’d laid on top. He could tell by the light weight of the box that he was running low on the soap. Not wanting to make a trip to a store to get more, the paramedic divided everything into two large loads. Anything that had color to it went into one pile; his bedding, white and light clothing in the other.
Once he had the two washing machines going, Johnny sat down in one of the chairs provided by the management and looked through one of his Wheels And Gears magazines as he waited.
Twenty-five minutes later, Gage was tossing his laundry into two dryers. Since it was going to take at least fifty minutes for either load to dry, he went back to his apartment to wait. Glancing at the clock in his kitchen, he figured he could make it over to Roy’s house by early afternoon since things were going so smoothly with his chore.
When the dryers were done, Johnny neatly folded each article of clothing and his bedding, and placed each in the basket, saving his socks and underwear for last. As he got to the last pair of white crew socks, he frowned. There was only one sock left in the dryer.
“Wha. . .? Where’s the other one?” He peered into the dryer, then stuck his head inside, getting a closer look. It was empty. Next he checked the washing machine he’d used for that load. It was empty too.
Standing back from the appliance, Johnny put his hands on his hips and looked down at the neatly folded laundry in the basket. The missing sock had to be stuck to or inside something else. The paramedic sighed as he realized what he had to do next.
Figures this happens the one time I don’t just toss everything in the basket till I get back to my apartment.
Piece by piece he unfolded the laundry, shaking each article out. He hoped his missing sock would turn up.
It wasn’t long before Johnny found himself looking at one huge mound of clothing and sheets piled on a large table. And his vanishing white sock was no where to be seen.
“It has to be somewhere. It’s not like it could walk out of here on its own,” he said to himself, snickering at his own joke. Gage blushed slightly as an elderly woman came into the room and gave him a curious glance when she heard him talking to himself.
“I. . .uh. . . my sock. . .that is, the dryer. . .” he stammered, then watched in surprise as the woman bolted from the room, her laundry basket still in her arms. “I’m not crazy!” he called out. “I’m not,” he reiterated to himself. “Man, where did you go?” he asked, once again looking around for the missing sock.
Suddenly it occurred to him that it may have never gotten out of the apartment to begin with. In a rush, he quickly gathered up his other clean laundry and loaded it back into the basket in a semi straightened pile. Johnny then headed towards his apartment.
After a thorough search, an annoyed and baffled Johnny sat on his couch. It wasn’t that he didn’t have other pairs of socks nor that he couldn’t afford to buy new ones. It was the principle of the thing. He wanted to know where his missing sock went.
How could it just disappear?
Giving in, Johnny threw his hands up in frustration. He had to take one more look in and around the dryer.
Later that night, Johnny tossed and turned in bed, trying to get to sleep. As hard as he tried, he could not get the missing sock off his mind.
This is insane, he thought. Maybe I am crazy after all. It’s a stupid sock, for crying out loud. One lousy sock.
The paramedic gave up on sleep and lay on his back, staring at the ceiling in the darkened room.
I can’t believe that maintenance man really took the dryer apart when I told him I thought something was wrong with it. But what else was I supposed to say when he found me half way inside it? Man, the look on his face when I told him later that I was looking for a lost sock. I’m lucky I didn’t end up stashed somewhere. I guess helping to put it back together helped.
Johnny put his left arm over his eyes and hoped sleep would come soon. After a few minutes, he lifted his arm as another thought came to mind. How was he going to explain to Roy that he never made it over because he had to help put a dryer back together? And what kind of look would his partner give him when he told him why?
The next morning, Roy came into the locker room and found his partner already in uniform, his shoes and socks on. But Johnny was looking tired and perplexed as he sat on the edge inside his own locker.
“What’s the matter with you?” Roy asked as he opened his locker.
“Oh, I’m just thinkin’,” the younger man said, stifling a yawn.
“About what? How to explain to your best friend why you deserted him in his time of need?”
Johnny sat up straight and splayed a hand on his chest. “I didn’t desert you. I. . .uh. . .I had a slight problem . . .and one thing lead to another. . .and. . .uh. . .well, next thing I knew, the day was gone. Poof,” he added, making an upward motion with his hands.
“Okay. Forget I said ‘deserted’. So what was her name?”
“Roy, I only wish it were a her. That would’ve made it all worth while.”
“What was it?”
“Weeell . . .it’s kind of hard to explain . . .”
“Hard for you to explain? This must be good.”
Johnny frowned. “Ha ha. Look, you wanna know or not?”
“Sure,” Roy answered, buttoning his blue uniform shirt.
“It’s like this. . .you know how it is when you misplace somethin’? And you know it’s gotta be somewhere, ‘cause ya just had it not too long before you misplaced it. But you look where you think it is and it’s not there. So you look every where else you can think of, and still you can’t find it. And after that you just know it’s gotta be where you originally thought, so you go back and you won’t give up till you find it.” He noticed a blank stare on his partner’s face, but continued on, ignoring the expression. “Then when you don’t find it there, you can’t think of anything else because you know it’s still gotta be somewhere because inanimate objects can’t walk away by themselves. So your whole day is focused on finding this thing.”
Roy remained staring at Johnny, the blank look still on his face. After a few seconds, he managed to say something.
“So what did you lose? Must’ve been pretty important.”
“A sock,” Johnny said sheepishly.
“You mean you passed up dinner with us for a lost sock? How could you lose one sock, anyway?”
“The dryer, I guess. And there’s a little more to it than that, Roy. I would’ve been over, but I had to help put the dryer back together.”
“You took a dryer apart?” Roy asked in disbelief.
“No, no. . .geesh, Roy. Give me some credit. The maintenance man took it apart when he found me halfway inside and wondered what I was doing. I told him something seemed to be--”
“Don’t tell me anymore,” DeSoto said, stepping into his trousers. “I think I’m better off not knowing.”
“I don’t know what you’re worried about. I’m the one who missed out on a free meal . . .one of Joanne’s at that,” Johnny snorted. “You just had to face your mother-in-law as the only fireman in the house another day.”
Roy rolled his eyes, as Johnny picked up a white sock that was beside him in the locker.
“Anyway, since I couldn’t sleep and I was missing the other match to this sock, I made a puppet for Jennifer.” Johnny handed the puppet to Roy, who held it up and grinned at the black circle eyes colored in with Magic Marker and the red lips filled in with another marker.
The senior paramedic looked at the simple toy in his hands. “I can’t picture you sitting up in the middle of the night drawing eyes and lips on a sock.”
“I think I was too tired to realize what I was doin’,” Johnny teased. “Just don’t tell Chet, or my life is over, if you know what I mean.” He got up from his seat in the locker and started to walk away when Roy put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.
DeSoto’s gaze was on his partner’s locker. “Something white just dropped out of your shirt.”
“Huh?” Johnny turned around to see. Sure enough, there was something white where he’d just been sitting.
“It fell out of your light yellow shirt as soon as you got up. I think the edge of the shirt was touching your back and it moved when you did.”
Gage picked up the object and held it out for Roy to see. It was his missing sock.
“It must’ve been stuck inside my shirt all this time! But I shook each piece of laundry and nothing ever fell out!”
“But I shook this shirt. . .hard!”
“Real bad static cling.”
Johnny looked at the sock in his hand and the puppet he’d made in Roy’s. “Oh man,” he groaned.
Roy put the sock puppet on his right hand. In a high-pitched voice and while moving the toy’s mouth, he asked, “Does this mean I get my partner back, Johnny?” He grinned when Gage groaned.
“Gimme that,” Johnny said, pulling the puppet off Roy’s hand.
“Guess you gotta draw a face on the other one so they match.”
“You know, you’re enjoying this way too much.”
“Look at the bright side. You solved one of life’s greatest mysteries.”
“Where do socks go when they get lost in the dryer.”
Johnny mocked a snicker. “Put a sock in it, Roy.” The dark-haired paramedic picked up the puppet and other sock, and started for the door.
“Hey, where are you going?” Roy asked, still grinning.
“Where else? To find a coupla markers to make another puppet for Jennifer.”
Roy shook his head as the door closed behind Johnny.
I would’ve loved to have been a fly on a wall at his place last night.
Although not all lost sock stories end with a quick reunion between the owner and the sock, and some never do turn up, leaving us still baffled as to where they DID go, in this case one answer of many possible ones was used.
** For a good drama with this same title, read 'Another Hang-Up' by dee_ayy.
*Click on the purple sock to send feedback to Audrey
**Sock drawing by Chelsea
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