A Valentine Date

By Marty P.



It was Groundhog Day and Chet came into the kitchen after a run to see Johnny sitting alone, undertaking his favorite pastime, eating.  The ever-hungry paramedic looked up from the sports page, still chewing the beef jerky he’d found in a cabinet.  “Where ya hiding Roy, Johnny?” 


“He went to Cap’s office to update the logbook but I think he’s trying to make reservations at The Velvet Slipper for Valentine’s Day.”


“We’re off on the 14th this year?”  Chet sounded a bit uncomfortable at the prospect. 


Johnny missed his tone of voice, “Yeah.  Roy mentioned that the A-shift hasn’t had this holiday off for three years.  He wants to make it really special for Joanne.”


“I bet you have plans already,” Chet surmised as he went to see which recipe Marco had pulled out to prepare for dinner.


“Plans for what?”  Marco asked as he had only heard the tail end of the conversation when he and Mike came into the room.  Walking toward the television, Marco flipped it on and waited for it to warm up.  “Anybody know if the groundhog saw his shadow?”


Mike tsked,  “Marco, we live in California.  It’s not like we’re looking at more winter weather.”


“I know but they always make a big deal out of it on February 2nd so I thought I’d check.”  He clicked through the channels but only found game shows and soap operas playing.


Mike turned off the set, “So, what are your plans?”  He looked at Chet and Johnny.


“I…haven’t decided yet.”  Johnny swallowed the last bit of jerky and got up to wash the newsprint off his hands.


Chet snickered, tugging his mustache, “That means he doesn’t have any plans.”


“Is it my fault I’m between girlfriends?”  Johnny dried his hands and made a neat stack of the day’s paper. 


“You’re ALWAYS between girlfriends!”  Chet retorted, enjoying the rise he got out of the paramedic.


The phone jangled as the captain came in to join his crew.  After greeting the caller he announced, “Gage, phone!” 


Johnny loped to the corner and took the receiver from the captain’s hand.  “Hi, this is Johnny Gage.” 


“Johnny, it’s Pam.  Pam Burke.” 


A feeling of guilt flowed through the paramedic’s veins.  Pam’s husband, Officer Drew Burke, had died in September.  He and Roy arrived at the scene when Drew was injured and transported him to the hospital where he died from massive hemorrhaging.  Johnny was the one who broke the news to Pam.  At one time, he and Drew had been close friends and Johnny intended to keep in touch with his wife after the tragedy occurred.  But life had gotten hectic and his resolutions evaporated.   

“Hi, Pam.  How ya doing?” 


“Not too bad, Johnny.  But I need to ask a favor.  It’s about Valentine’s Day.”


Just then the tones reverberated throughout the station.  Station 51.  MVA at Sylvan and Vermont.  Time out 1442.


“I’m sorry, I’ve gotta go, Pam.  We have a run.”  He hung up the phone and went to join the rest of the crew.  Johnny’s mind focused on the rescue as he glanced at the call slip and kept a close eye on the route they were taking. 


When they reached the intersection Vince came over to them.  “Just a fender bender.  I called because someone shouted, ‘Betsy hurt her neck!’  Turns out it was the child’s doll that got cracked when something fell on it.”


Captain Stanley ordered his firemen to survey the area for leaking fluids or anything that might cause a fire but none were found.  Roy and Johnny examined all occupants and informed Vince that the only casualty was Betsy.  In a short time the crew was headed back to the station.   


On the way, Roy ticked off possibilities for a sitter for his Valentine date with Joanne.  Johnny?  Would Johnny do it?  It was then he realized his partner was silent.

“Johnny?  You okay?”


“Roy, she called.” 


“Who called?”  Roy hadn’t been in the room when the phone call came.


“Pam.”  Johnny’s frustration made him speak sharply.


“Pam who?”


“Pam Burke!”  He thwacked his hand on the dashboard, “Don’t you remember her husband Drew Burke died last fall.”


“You haven’t talked about her for a while.” 


“I know that, Roy!  Are you saying I’ve been neglecting her?” 


“Johnny, I was merely commenting on the fact that you haven’t mentioned her name for a while.”  He put his turn signal on as he drew near to the station.  “Why’d she call?”


“I don’t know!  She asked about a favor for Valentine’s Day.”  When the squad stopped he headed to his locker to look up her number.  He lumbered into the dayroom a few minutes later with slumping shoulders.  “I was gonna call her back but I can’t find her number.  Did I give it to you?”


“You probably gave it to me.” Chet quipped.  As he observed Johnny’s look of sorrow he grew solemn, “What’s the matter?”


“You don’t wanna know.”  Johnny developed a sudden interest in the notices on the bulletin board but it was clear to everyone in the room that he wasn’t reading them.


The crew waited for Roy to fill them in.  As soon as Johnny stepped out of the room he gave them an explanation, “Last fall a friend of Johnny’s died; his name was Drew Burke.  Pam, his wife called today but we got a run.  He doesn’t know why.” 


“Is her number in the phone book?”  Marco suggested, wanting to take action in some way.


Johnny overheard him, “No, she got an unlisted number.  I told her it would be a good idea since Drew was a police officer.”  Silence greeted his announcement.




The following morning Johnny headed home and dug up Pam’s phone number.  She had been in his thoughts throughout the shift.  He knew she wanted to ask him something about Valentine’s Day and dreaded hurting her if she had expectations he couldn’t meet.  After giving himself a talking to, he dialed her number, hoping that he would find her at home.  She picked it up on the fourth ring.  “Hi, Pam, it’s Johnny Gage.  I’m sorry I had to cut you off yesterday.”


“I understand.  Johnny, Valentine’s Day was always special to us.  I wracked my brain for who to call and I kept coming back to you.”  Johnny held his breath, not sure what was coming next.  “Drew and I celebrated the holiday on the 15th after Chloe was born.  He and Chloe always spent the evening of the 14th together.  Would you be willing to be her date?”


Johnny changed the receiver to his other ear so he could reach a pencil and paper.  “Pam, I’d be happy to do it.  Do I need to take her to a certain restaurant?”


There was a pause, “Well, last year he promised he’d take her to The Velvet Slipper but it’s okay if you go somewhere else.”


“The Velvet Slipper it is then.  I’d like to keep the promise he made to her.”  After discussing the details of the “date,” they hung up.  It took a few minutes for him to find the yellow pages.  At last he spotted them hidden under a stack of magazines.  Pulling them out he looked up the number for the elegant eatery and before the day ended he’d made a reservation.




On his next shift Roy noticed his partner’s lighthearted attitude.  When they were alone in the squad he satisfied his curiosity.  “What did Pam want?”


Johnny, whose mind was on the new nurse he’d spotted coming out of the Emergency entrance, hesitated.  Roy, misinterpreting, apologized, “If you don’t want to tell me that’s okay.”


“She asked me to take her daughter Chloe out on Valentine’s Day.  Seems it was a tradition she and her dad had.”  Johnny pursed his lips, “Roy, don’t mention this to the guys.”


“They’d understand, Johnny.” 


“I know, but Chet would still needle me about not having a real date.”  Roy put the squad in park and the two were soon occupied with giving the vehicle an oil change.


“You think she’d like flowers?”  Johnny asked as he put the oil pan in position under the engine.  Chet walked by right then.


“Who ya talking about, Johnny?”  Johnny sped out from under the squad so fast that the auto creeper ran over Chet’s toe.  “Ow!  Ya didn’t hafta injure me for asking a simple question!”


“I’m not gonna answer your question; it’s my business.”  By now Chet had his shoe and sock off and Roy examined the reddened digit.  “Did I do any permanent damage?” 


“Naw, he’ll live.”  Roy returned to the squad and looked for the spout they used on the oilcans.  Chet left with an exaggerated limp, causing Johnny to grin at his theatrics.  “You know he’s going to try to trip you up to get information, Johnny.”


“Well, it’s not gonna work.”  He and Roy soon had the job on the squad done and went to drain the coffeepot. 


“I think you should take flowers to…?”  Chet left his comment dangling.


Johnny, who was filling his mug, answered without much thought, “Chloe.”  As soon as the word popped out of his mouth he slammed his cup down, spattering himself with the hot liquid.  “Doggone it, Chet!  Why do you hafta interrogate me?”


Chet, not realizing who Chloe was, felt no remorse.  “Cuz it’s so much fun, Gage.”


“Now, who is Chloe?”  He nibbled the corner of his mustache, “Supply nurse?  The cute little number at the pharmacy?  Gloria Truelove’s real name?  The cashier at Ralph’s Market?”


“Give it a rest,” Roy chimed in.  While Johnny ran cold water on his hands and spotted his shirt, the senior paramedic got another pot of coffee going. Chet baited him the remainder of the shift but Johnny failed to satisfy his curiosity.




Over the next week Johnny gave more thought to Pam and Chloe.  He and Roy were chatting in the locker room when Chet came to the doorway with the cleaning supplies for the latrine.  “You mean our reservations are for the same time?”  Johnny unthreaded his broken shoelace and inserted a new one.


“That’s the only time we could get in.  I’m amazed they could accommodate you.”  Roy informed him as he returned his shoeshine kit to the locker and latched the door.


Overhearing them, Chet’s eyes twinkled.  Gage was taking his date the same place Roy was:  The Velvet Slipper.  It piqued his interest even more.   He greeted the paramedics as they left the room and whistled as he mopped the floor.




In the early afternoon the squad got called to Allen’s Flower Market.  As they entered the shop they heard sobbing at the back of the store.  “What happened?”  Johnny asked as he approached a young woman wearing a green smock.


She held up her bloodied hands.  “We ordered long-stemmed roses without thorns and they sent the largest thorned roses I’ve ever seen.  We’re so busy right now we decided to strip them ourselves.  I got gouged and knocked a vase off on the floor.  When I went to pick it up the glass cut me.”


Johnny removed his helmet and opened the drug box to retrieve some 4 x 4’s.  “We’ll just bandage these and get you to Rampart.”  Johnny rode in the ambulance with her and went to find Roy after leaving her in Dr. Early’s competent hands.




Johnny had his arm propped against the window on the ride back to the station.  “Roy, I think I’m gonna give Chloe a single yellow rose.  The florist I just took in to Rampart said the yellow ones mean joy and friendship.” 


“Good idea, Johnny.”  Roy stiffened when he saw flashing lights up ahead but relaxed when he realized it was a person pulled over for speeding. 


Johnny noticed his partner’s reaction, “Roy, want me to drive?”


“No, I was just anticipating a need for us to pull over and assist.”




The days flew by and it was the morning of Feb. 13th.   After roll call Johnny placed his hat on the shelf, “Roy, did ya ever find a sitter for Chris and Jenny?”


Roy’s eyes glimmered.  “Sort of, Marco invited them over for a huge spaghetti dinner his family has every year.  They’re excited about it.”


“I’m glad that worked out.”  Johnny shut the closet door and put his thumbs through his belt loops.  “I’ll be glad when tomorrow night is over.  I feel kinda uncomfortable standing in for Drew.”


Roy thought of how natural Johnny was around children, “You’ll do fine.” 


Johnny nodded absent-mindedly. 




Shortly before lunch the claxons went off.  Squad 51.  Shooting at Karat Gold.  20700 Avalon Blvd.  Cross street Dolores.  Timeout 1137.


Roy pulled up in front of the shop and stopped behind a sheriff’s cruiser.  Vince Howard, the officer they often encountered on calls, waved them in.  “The shopkeeper fired at a robber who came in.  His upper arm is bleeding pretty heavily.” 


Johnny set the equipment down near the victim and opened the drug box.  The man cringed as the paramedic put pressure on his wound.  “I was just trying to raise some quick cash to get my wife something for Valentine’s Day.”


“What’s wrong with people these days,” the proprietor uttered to Vince as he continued to give him information for his report. 


Roy positioned the biophone near the victim and saw Johnny inflating the BP cuff.  As the air whooshed out of it Johnny announced, “Pulse is 100; respirations are 20 and the blood pressure is 100/66.  The bullet grazed his upper arm.”


Receiving orders from Rampart, Roy handed gave Johnny an IV kit and pulled out a bag of normal saline.   The ambulance attendants entered just as Johnny was finishing up.  




After transferring the patient into Dr. Morton’s care, the two paramedics saw Dixie at the base station and went to restock their supplies.  Johnny poured himself a cup of coffee and moved aside so Roy could do likewise.  “Hi, boys, how’s it going?”  She slid off the stool after she added an entry to the chart and opened the drug cabinet. 


Roy took a sip of the tepid brew and set the cup down, “Doing fine, Dixie.  And yourself?”  He noted the bouquet of red roses on the desk.  “Do you have a secret admirer?”


“No, just a grateful patient who runs a flower shop.”   Dixie put the items they needed on the counter and pushed the paperwork toward Roy.  The phone rang at the desk as he scrawled his name and she waved to them as they walked toward the exit.


On the return trip they passed a movie theater where the marquee read, ‘The Apple Dumpling Gang.’  An idea came to Johnny, “Roy, were you telling me about that new movie?”


Roy, too, had noticed what was playing.  “Yeah, we went last weekend.  It’s a pretty funny movie and Chris really liked it.”


“Maybe I’ll see if it’s okay with Pam if I take Chloe to see it.”  Johnny scratched his chin and adjusted the call slip in the visor.




As soon Roy pulled into the station, Johnny hopped out of the squad and sniffed the air, “Burgers.  Wonder if there’s anything to nibble on until lunch is served.”   The table was set and Johnny nabbed a pickle. 


Mike took the skillet off the stove as Roy sat down.  He slipped the meat onto a platter and put it out of Johnny’s reach, receiving a look of dismay from the ravenous paramedic.  Captain Stanley seated himself next to Roy and saw Johnny stretch toward the meat patties, “Gage!”  His raised eyebrows caused Johnny’s movements to cease.  “Wait your turn like everyone else.”  He rubbed his hands together as he saw the steaming pile of French fries.  “Looks good, Mike.”  


After the meal ended Johnny found himself on dish detail while Chet put away the condiments.  Johnny decided to interrogate the fireman.  “So, what are you doing on Valentine’s Day?”


Chet, who had no date, waffled, “I’m still making plans.  I bet I’ll have more fun than you do though.”


As he shut the refrigerator the tones went off.  Station 51, person trapped.  16910 Central Ave.  Cross Street Walnut.  Timeout  1522.


“Isn’t that a plastics factory?”  Johnny fastened his chinstrap and opened the Thomas Guide as Roy pulled out of the station.


“Yeah, it could be bad if someone got caught in one of the machines.” 


A worker was standing at the curb when the vehicles from Station 51 arrived.  “I’ll take you there.  It’s Sandy.  We were working on a final order for plastic valentine boxes and they came out mottled.  She stopped the machine and when she put her hand in it closed on her.  We turned off the power as soon as she screamed.”


Johnny set the biocom down and contacted Rampart while Captain Stanley conversed with the plant manager and assessed the situation.  Roy took Sandy’s vitals.  “Johnny, BP is 88/60, pulse is 116 and respirations are 26.”


Rampart.  This is County 51.  We have a 40-year-old female with her left hand trapped in a plastic molding machine.  He gave the vitals.


51, start an IV with Normal Saline and continue monitoring vitals.  How soon do you anticipate freeing victim?


We’re working on it, Rampart. 


We’ll stand by, 51.


Chet pointed to a button near the bottom of the machine, “Hey, Cap.  The manual override’s down here!” 


The captain checked with Roy.  “Marco, go get ready to restart the power when I give you the go ahead.”  Hank Stanley saw his medical personnel getting prepared, “All set for us to open the machine?”  Johnny had a blanket out and asked Mike to open their trauma box.  Then the paramedic went to stand behind Sandy.  Receiving a nod of acknowledgment from Roy, the captain shouted toward Marco, “Turn it on at my count to three.  Chet, punch the button at the same time.”   He paused and then began, “One, two, three!”  The machine whirred to life and Chet stabbed the switch that stopped its predetermined sequence so they could pry it apart.  Sandy was gritting her teeth so she didn’t cry out in pain. 


A minute later Roy helped pull her arm out of the metal beast.  He examined her arm and hand and accepted the splint Johnny held out to him.  Her wrist and bones in her arm were broken but she wasn’t bleeding profusely.  The heart-shaped mold in the machine had prevented injuries he anticipated.  He and Johnny placed her on the stretcher the ambulance attendants brought in while the firefighters freed Sandy.


Roy rode in the ambulance with her and the paramedics watched Dr. Brackett check her over.  “We’re gonna need to send you up to surgery to get those bones back in place.  But I’d say you’re a pretty lucky lady.” 


“We’re gonna head on out, Doc.”  Roy leaned over Sandy. “They’ll take good care of you here.”  




At last the shift ended and Johnny headed home.  In the late morning he called Pam to make sure all was set for the evening with Chloe.  “Pam, how ya doing?”


“It’s hard Johnny, but it gets a little easier every day.  I’d move and start all over but Chloe has so many friends at school.”


She changed the subject, “Thanks for what you’re doing tonight.  I haven’t seen Chloe this excited for a long time.”


“I’m glad I could help.”  A knock came at his door and he wrapped up his conversation with Pam. 


When he answered the door, he discovered Mrs. Wilcox, a widow in her mid-seventies who lived down the hall from Johnny.  She gave him a sweet smile and held up a jar of maraschino cherries.  “Could you?” 


With a quick twist of his wrist, he loosened the lid and gave the jar back to her.  “It’s for the top of the Black Forest cake I’m making for my grandchildren. I’ll save you a piece.”


“Thanks, Mrs. Wilcox.  I’ll be by tomorrow.” 




The day sped by and Johnny went to his closet and grabbed clothes to don for his date with Chloe.  He snatched a brown corduroy sport coat off a hanger and slung a navy blue tie around his neck.  He’d knot it when he got to Pam’s house.  Making a detour to the kitchen, he picked up the yellow rose he’d gotten for Chloe.  He checked his watch as he pulled in front of Pam’s house.  He expected to see Drew coming out of the garage, wiping his greasy hands on an already soiled rag.  Pursing his lips, he took a deep breath and got out of the Land Rover.  This was gonna be harder than he’d thought.  He rang the doorbell and Pam opened it.  Tears glittered in her eyes as she saw him and he gave her a brotherly hug.  “Johnny, it’s so good to see you.”


A seven-year-old girl dressed in her Sunday best scampered into the living room and did a pirouette in front of them.  The gathered skirt of her pink dotted Swiss dress swirled with the movement.  A matching bow graced her hair and her eyes sparkled with excitement.  Her black patent leather shoes glistened as the light caught them.  “Can we go?” 


“Now, you behave for Johnny, Chloe.”


The little girls’ lowered lip stuck out in a pout, “Mommy, you said this was a date!”


Johnny held his hand out to her, “I think we better get going, Sweetheart.  We can’t be late or the restaurant will give our seats away to other people.”


She took his hand and blew her mother a kiss.  “Bye, Mommy.”


Her Sir Galahad opened the passenger door for her, plucked the rose off the seat and helped her into his car.  With a flourish he presented the flower to her.  “For you, Chloe.” 


“Thank you.  It’s pretty and it smells nice.”  Chloe smiled at him and then her face clouded up.


“What’s the matter?”  Johnny was surprised that she looked dismayed.


Chloe stuttered, “D-do you mind if I give the flower to Mommy?  She’s been sad.”

Johnny walked around the car and got in, ruffling her hair gently.  “You go right ahead.    They conversed on the way to the restaurant and she told him about her friends at school and the guppies that lived in the fish tank in Mrs. Randolph’s classroom. 


As he pulled into the parking lot he failed to notice a white VW van.  Hiding behind the steering wheel was Chet, who’d hoped to see who Johnny was escorting to the five-star restaurant.  “Well, I’ll be.” He exclaimed as he saw Johnny assist a very young lady from his Land Rover.  His curiosity satisfied, he went to locate a cheap drive-in.


Johnny spotted Roy as they entered the lobby.  “Chloe, this is my good friend Roy and his wife Joanne.”


“Will they eat with us?”  Chloe asked, her grip tightening on Johnny’s hand.


Joanne gave her a warm smile, “No.  We’re not double dating.” 


The maitre di  called toward the foursome, “DeSoto?”  Roy raised his hand.  “Follow me please.”


Chloe tugged on Johnny’s hand, “I need the…”


“I’ll wait for you,” Johnny told her as he pointed to the Ladies’ room and positioned himself on the bench nearby. 


As she came out, the restaurant’s host spoke Johnny’s name. “Gage?” Johnny guided Chloe up to him and they were seated near the kitchen.  Joanne and Roy saw them pass by.


Johnny looked at the menu, wondering what a seven-year-old child would like.  He glanced up to see Chloe drawing her eyebrows together, “Johnny, what’s foie gras and liver pate?”


The paramedic wasn’t sure either, “We’ll ask the waiter, okay?” 


Jacques, the man assigned to their table, appeared after a few minutes and described items on the menu.  Chloe didn’t look excited over any of the choices.  Understanding, he suggested, “Would mademoiselle like a burger?”  Receiving an eager nod, he added, “with French fried potatoes?” 


Johnny ordered, “I’d like a Porterhouse steak, medium, with a baked potato.  Could you bring steak sauce?”


“But of course,” Jacques bowed, “It’s so nice to see a father taking his daughter out on this special day.”


“He’s not my daddy.  My daddy’s in heaven.”  Chloe’s lips quivered for a minute, “This is Johnny.  He’s helping my daddy tonight.”


Jacques gave the lass a deeper bow, “And a fine job Johnny’s doing.”  He whispered above her head, “Sorry, sir.” 


He returned to place their order before Johnny could reply.   When they were alone, Chloe sat up straighter in her chair, “Johnny, why did my daddy die?  Did I do something wrong?”


Johnny rose from the chair across from his date and sank into one next to her.  Putting his arm around he searched for the right words to say, “Sweetheart, you had nothing to do with why your daddy died.  Your daddy loved you very, very much.”


“But why did he die?”


“Chloe, I don’t know.  With all my heart I wish I could bring your daddy back.”


“But he made Mommy and me so sad.”   Tears trickled down her face and Johnny took a handkerchief out of his back pocket and gave it to the child.


“Chloe, I was with your daddy and he told me that you and your mommy were the best thing that ever happened to him.”


Across the room, Joanne saw Chloe tear up and scooted her chair back to go and console her, “It’s okay, honey.”  Roy said softly as the two of them watched.


“Chloe, you and your mommy will never forget your daddy but it won’t hurt as much soon.”  Johnny prayed his words would be prophetic.  “You know when you skin your knee and it hurts a bunch right away but then Mommy puts a band aid on it and it gets better?”


“Uh huh.”  She sniffed and handed the soggy handkerchief back to him.  “Can you put a band aid on us?”


He gave her a quick hug, “There, pretend that’s a band aid.” 


Joanne drew her chair closer to Roy, “He’s gonna make a wonderful father someday.”


“You’re right, dear.  Now let’s enjoy our dinner.”  Roy gave her a kiss on the cheek just as the waiter brought their food.


After the meal ended, Johnny paid the bill and turned to Chloe, “Know what?  Our date’s not over yet.”


Chloe got wide-eyed.  “Are we going to the opera?”


Johnny chuckled, “No, afraid not.”


“Good.  I don’t know what the opera is.”  She got to her feet as Johnny pulled the chair out for her.


“Nope, we’re going to a movie I think we’ll both like.”  They returned to the car and he drove to the theater and paid for the tickets.  Johnny bought a tub of buttered popcorn before they entered the dim auditorium.  They sat down to enjoy a cartoon before the feature film.  Several times Johnny thought he heard a familiar laugh.


As the main feature progressed, Johnny heard someone chortling.  There was only one person he knew who sounded that way.  Chet!  But then he, too, got into the antics of the picture and he and Chloe had some barrel laughs themselves.  It wasn’t until the closing credits that he gave any more thought to his fellow crewmate.  It took a while for them to leave the crowded cinema.  As he directed Chloe to his car, Chet caught up with him.


“Hi, Johnny.  Could I ask you a favor?”


“What are you doing here?”  Johnny asked with suspicion.  “Were you spying on me?”


Chet put up his hand like a Boy Scout.  “I cannot tell a lie.  I wanted to see your date.”  He winked at Chloe, “And may I say she’s stunning?”


“So, what do you want?”  Johnny unlocked the door for Chloe.


“My car won’t start and I’m stranded here.  Could you give me a ride home?”  He looked like a child begging for an ice cream cone.


Johnny saw Chloe waiting for him to answer, “Okay.  But I hafta take my date home first.”  Chet scrambled into the back seat before Johnny could change his mind. 


Chet told Chloe stories on the way.  The vehicle was filled with laughter.  Johnny now knew where The Phantom got many of his pranks.  Johnny pulled into the Burke driveway and helped Chloe out.   She carried the yellow rose in her hand “I want you to meet my mommy,” Chloe informed Chet, pulling on his hand.


Pam opened the door as they approached the house.  “Mommy, this is Johnny’s friend Chet.  And I want you to have my rose.”


“Chloe, thank you!  Nice to meet you, Chet.”  Pam held out her hand to him.  Chloe perched on the sofa as the adults exchanged pleasantries.  Soon her eyes were closing and  Pam caught sight of her drowsy child.  “Looks like I need to put someone to bed.  Chloe, tell Johnny good night.”


She gave him a bear hug.  “Thank you.”  Then she did the same to Chet.  He bent down to reciprocate.  “Chet, I think you should take my mommy out and make her laugh.”


“CHLOE!”  Pam cried with embarrassment, pushing toward the bedroom and following after her.


“Actually that’s not a bad idea, Chet.  Pam looks worn out.  Besides when you aren’t picking on me you can be pretty funny.”


“I don’t wanna butt in on your territory, Johnny.”


“Chet, every time I see Pam I see Drew’s face.  I think I’ll always think of her as Drew’s wife.”


Pam came back into the room.  “Thanks again, Johnny.  You made her night really special and it was nice to meet you, Chet.”


“Pam, would you mind if I shared your phone number with Chet?” 


There was a pause, “I guess not.  Chloe’s right.  I have been too glum lately.  I could use some laughter.” 


The two men said their farewells and Johnny dropped Chet off at his apartment.    It wasn’t until the next shift that Johnny saw Chet again.  Chet bounced into the station with a beaming smile for Roy and Johnny. 


“Well, you’re cheerful today, Chet.  Does this mean Johnny better be on his toes today?”  Roy watched for a reaction from Johnny as he made his comment.


“Nope.  I, I mean The Phantom hasn’t been planting any surprises for Gage today.”


Johnny eyed his coworker, “Did you go out with Pam Burke?”


“No, but we did talk on the phone several times.”  His movements stilled, “Johnny…?”


“Chet, if this works out for you.  I really am okay with it.”   He tucked in his work shirt,  “I’m having a date with Cindy tomorrow night.”


“Who’s Cindy?”  Both Chet and Roy asked at the same time.  Johnny didn’t answer, he just walked out of the locker room.



*Click on the picture of Johnny to send Marty feedback


Stories by Marty P.         Valentine Stories Page