A Tale of Two Punches. . .Sorta
By Audrey W.
The day before Easter, 197?
“I’m just saying that I don’t think buyin’ a pet on the spur of the moment for a holiday because it looks cute is very wise,” John Gage stated.
Sitting at the table in the dayroom of Station 51, Chet Kelly pushed back his chair and got to his feet. He stepped over near Gage, who was leaning against the kitchen counter, a cup of coffee in his right hand.
“Ah, c’mon, John. Parents’ve been gettin’ their kids bunnies or baby chicks for Easter for years. What’s the harm?”
“What’s the harm? What’s the harm?” He eyed his partner Roy DeSoto, who was sitting on the couch, hoping for support on his point. “You gonna tell I’m or should I?”
“I think what Johnny’s trying to say is that the novelty wears off and the pets end up being taken care of by the parents and that only goes over for so long before the things are neglected or turned loose to fend for themselves.”
“Well, yeah, that too,” Johnny said.
Now Roy wondered just what the younger man was talking about. He listened as Johnny continued.
“But there’s also the danger of mixin’ kids and pets that are violent.”
Chet screwed up his face. “Rabbits aren’t violent.”
“They can be.”
“Well, maybe some rabbits, but not Easter bunnies. They’re soft. . .and cuddly . . .and
“Cute,” Johnny finished for him with a nod. “Chet, I had a bunny as a kid. . .got it for Easter. Before I even had my chocolate rabbit’s ears eaten. . .you know, because every kid eats one a nibble at a time. . . my parents were looking for a new home for Billy.”
“Billy. . .?”
“Billy the Bunny. The bully bunny.”
“What’d he do? Bite ya?”
“Uh uh. He boxed me.”
Chet looked to Roy, who just shrugged. He then returned his gaze to the other.
“How does a bunny box a boy?”
“Easy, he uses his front feet and throws punches.”
Both Roy and Chet looked at the dark-haired paramedic with blank stares as they waited for him to break out in a grin of ‘I’m kidding’. But when his expression remained serious, Roy couldn’t keep his thoughts to himself.
“You mean the bunny hit you?”
“He tried,” the younger man nodded. “Every time I went to pick him up, he’d get on his hind legs and punch. Real fast, you know? A left, right, left again,” he explained as he demonstrated with exaggerated arm movements. “The cuteness wore off real quick, I tell ya.”
“Maybe he didn’t like you eating his chocolate relative,” Chet offered.
Roy still wasn’t sure he believed the story. He had suspicions his partner was trying to get one over on Chet. He made an effort to bring up the image of a boxing bunny in his head anyway, but the klaxons sounded, interrupting his thoughts.
“Station 51, unknown type rescue, West Palm Avenue and 212th Street, West Palm Avenue and two hundred twelfth Street . Time out 13:45.”
“I hope that’s not for some kid who’s been knocked out by a rabbit,” Chet commented sarcastically.
Gage rolled his eyes and followed the others out the door.
“Station 51, 10-4. KMG365,” Captain Stanley acknowledged with the mic at the podium in the apparatus bay as the men hurried to their respective trucks.
Gage secured his helmet on his head while his partner Roy DeSoto flicked on the lights and siren before donning his own helmet as well. They soon were on their way, the engine immediately behind them.
Johnny’s jaw dropped as they approached the location of the response.
“Do you see what I see?”
“I see it but I don’t believe it.” Roy pulled over to the curb and put the squad in ‘park’. “But something tells me that’s our ‘unknown rescue’,” he stated as they quickly climbed out.
“What’s it doin’ here?”
“Maybe we can ask it,” Roy stated sarcastically, drawing a frown from his partner.
The two quickly hurried to the small crowd of people gathered in the yard. The captain and engine crew alongside them.
“It’s about time you got here,” a middle aged man with a beer belly, dressed in shorts and a blue Hawaiian print shirt stated when he saw the men approaching.
“Well, now that we are here,” Hank said, ignoring the attitude, “You wanna tell us just exactly what’s going on?”
The man motioned to the unusual visitor in his yard. “In case you didn’t notice, there’s a kangaroo in my yard!”
“Yes, sir, but why did you call for us? Did someone get hurt?”
“No, no one got hurt. But who else would I call?”
Hank’s men looked at one another, none surprised at the man’s assumption.
“Well, Animal Control comes to mind.”
“Animal Control? I thought you firemen handled this stuff. And I don’t care who does it. I just want the thing outta here. Outta my yard!”
“Look__ sir__we aren’t trained to capture large animals. Nor do we have the right kind of equipment with us to transport a. . .kangaroo. Even a young one like that,” he added, noting it wasn’t full grown. When a look of disappointment crossed the man’s features, he offered, “I’ll have our dispatch contact the proper authorities and they can get in touch with the zoo and see if they’re missing a. . .uh. . .kangaroo.”
After a brief second of thought, the man nodded. “Okay.”
“Good. Just keep everyone back,” Hank said, indicating the neighbors who were still gathered nearby watching the marsupial. He then got a hold of LA Dispatch on the HT and requested the proper help.
In the meantime the rest of the crew stood watching the animal in amusement and curiosity.
Johnny furrowed his brow. “I thought kangaroos were nocturnal.”
“I guess not if they’re out cruising the neighborhood,” Roy offered with a grin.
“He must belong to somebody,” Marco said. “He doesn’t seem to care that he’s got an audience.”
Mike shrugged. “He’s gotta be from the zoo.”
While his men continued to debate how a young kangaroo could end up in a neighborhood in Carson, the captain briefed a police officer who’d just arrived on the scene.
“Seems we’ve got an escapee of sorts. No word on from where yet, but my bets are on the zoo.”
“Unless someone’s got one for a pet. If so, I doubt they’ll come forward and claim it, considering they’ll have to claim the fine for keeping an illegal animal as well.”
Hank looked over at the visitor. “Maybe they turned it loose when they realized just how big they get.”
“How long has it been here?” the officer asked.
“I don’t know. The gentleman in the Hawaiian shirt called it in.”
With that, the two headed to get more information from the homeowner.
The young kangaroo hopped twice, eliciting a squeal of delight from a little girl standing by her mother.
“It’s the Easter Bunny, Mommy!”
As the mother could be heard explaining that bunnies had big long ears, Chet looked to Johnny, who in turn eyed him.
“Ooooh-noooo. Don’t say it, Chet.”
“I’m not sayin’ a word. I don’t have to,” he smirked.
Suddenly the two heard Roy’s voice call out, “Johnny!”
Only the warning was a little too late. By the time the ‘ee’ sounded, the kangaroo had already made its quick move.
Johnny instinctively ducked when he felt the marsupial nearly upon him after it had launched itself from a few feet away. The impact of the feet knocked the hunched over paramedic to the ground with an ‘oommph’ and carried the kangaroo right on over him.
As his crewmates rushed to his aid, a breathless Johnny lay dazed, wondering if what he thought had happened really did. He let out a slight groan.
“Johnny! Are you all right?” Roy wondered.
Chet and Marco were ready to scramble for any supplies that might be needed while Hank echoed Roy’s concern.
“Are you okay, pal?”
“Yeah. . .yeah. . .I think. . .so. . .” He closed his eyes as he lay there, still trying to catch his breath. “Jus’ . . .jus’ give me. . . a minute. “
Hank saw the Animal Control officers arrive and hurried over to fill them in, though it was obvious who they needed to pick up. The kangaroo was in the next yard over, once again ignoring the observers that now remained at a safer distance away.
“Are you hurt anywhere?” Roy questioned, already kneeling down beside his partner.
Johnny shook his head slightly. Though he was sure he’d be sore later from the hard landing. . . and from being hit. . . for now Gage had to count himself fortunate that he faired as well as he did. Kangaroos were known to have sharp claws and it very well could’ve used them on him.
Johnny watched from his seat on the ground as the truck with his attacker left the premises. The kangaroo was being taken to the zoo after having been tranquilized. Though it wasn’t clear yet where it had come from, the zoo would be its new home.
“I still can’t figure out why it attacked me,” John said with annoyance. “What’d I do? I was just standin’ here like everyone else--”
“Well, they’re pretty unpredictable,” Roy offered.
Chet sighed. “Face it, John. Between this and the bunny you had, I’d say you’ve just got a way of getting things ‘hopping’ mad.”
The paramedic groaned, this time from the pain of Chet’s bad joke.
Man, I *finally* pull somethin' over on 'im and he *still* comes out ahead. . .
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