The Christmas Spirit
Johnny yawned and stretched as he came into the kitchen area. “Good morning, Roy. I can’t believe that we’re the first one’s awake.” Johnny walked over to the cabinet and took a cup from the shelf.
“Morning, Johnny. It’s still early. If I were home, I’d be sleeping late like JoAnne and the kids are fortunately doing right now. My Mother-in-law … ”
Cap came around the corner and interrupted Roy. “I need a cup of coffee.” He took a cup from the cupboard and set it down on the counter. Johnny poured himself and Cap a cup of the coffee that Roy had made.
Johnny looked at the dark circles under Captain Stanley’s eyes. He looked as if he hadn’t slept very well after the engine had gone on an assist call with Station 16 around midnight. Cap carried his coffee to the table and sat down beside Roy.
“Morning, Cap,” Roy said.
“Morning.” Cap rubbed his eyes and yawned.
“Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just around the corner,” Johnny said as he looked in the refrigerator.
“At least it was a quiet Thanksgiving Day yesterday,” Cap commented. “I guess my wife will fix our turkey dinner today.”
Roy sipped on his cup of coffee and frowned. “JoAnne’s mother is at the house and she’ll be there until Sunday. They had Thanksgiving dinner without me yesterday.”
“Guess there will be some leftovers for you, pal. You are more than welcome to join us for dinner today,” Cap said after he took a sip of his coffee.
“No thanks, Cap. I think I’ll have to visit with my mother-in-law so JoAnne can fix lunch and clean the house today. Then we’re going to put up the Christmas tree and decorate it to suit her mother.”
“Gee, Roy, I know how much you’re going to enjoy that!” Johnny said as he set his cup of coffee and piece of pumpkin pie down on the table.
“At least JoAnne will be there to keep her mother entertained later while Chris and I watch television. I hope there is a good football game on this afternoon.”
“You’re getting pie this early in the morning?” Cap inquired as he glanced at Johnny’s plate.
Johnny took a bite of pie and spoke with his mouth full. “Sure, Cap. It has eggs and milk in it just like breakfast food doesn’t it?”
The claxon sounded. Johnny dropped his fork, stood up, and quickly took a gulp of coffee, as he heard: “Squad 51 woman injured at the Great Shop Mall in the All Small Appliance Store. Use east entrance. Thirty Two Hundred Ventura Highway. Cross Street Highway 101.”
Johnny hastily placed the cup on the table and rushed to the squad while listening to dispatch.
“Three two zero zero Ventura Highway. Time out 5:15.”
Cap was at the mic and had already opened the bay door as Johnny came into the bay. “Squad 51 KMG 365”
While on his way to the squad, Johnny paused long enough to take the address from Cap. As soon as he got into the squad, Johnny donned his helmet, and Roy drove out of the drive.
Roy pulled up in front of the mall entrance. “Man, Roy, would you look at the cars parked here in the fire lane,” Johnny said as he removed his helmet and placed it in the seat.
“I see them, all right. It’s hard to believe all these cars here this time of morning. There isn’t a place for us to park any closer, I guess,” Roy said as he eased over beside a car illegally parked.
Johnny got out of the passenger side while Roy put his helmet in the seat and checked for traffic, as cars drove close beside the squad. He was finally able to exit the driver’s side. They reached in the compartment for the black boxes and hurried inside the mall entrance.
“Roy, she’s in the All Small Appliance Store.”
“Here it is, Johnny,” Roy said as he saw the sign and made their way through crowds of people in the mall corridor.
There were so many people at the front of the store that the two paramedics had a difficult time gaining access to the front doors.
“Excuse us!” Roy shouted as he walked up to the crowd. “We need to get inside.”
“Wait your turn like everybody else!” Shouted a small thin woman determined not to let him go by her.
“Let us through, please!” Johnny shouted as he turned sideways to get past two ladies.
“If you could just move over a bit,” Roy asked a woman blocking his way.
Johnny barely made it around another woman.
Roy edged past a woman who pushed him away from her. “Get in the back of the crowd!” She shouted at him.
“Ma’am, could you just get…ma’am, I need to get by you,” Johnny said as he tried to suck in his chest and squeeze past her. He bumped against another lady in doing so. “Excuse me, ma’am.”
“Hey, where are you going?” The woman shouted. “You can’t push your way through like that!”
As they finally got into the store, Johnny mumbled to his partner. “Do you see her yet?”
“I can’t see anything in this crowd of people,” Roy commented. “The day after Thanksgiving is such a mess!”
“JoAnne?” Roy questioned as he went past her.
“Hi, Roy! It’s a Sale! Fifty percent off!” JoAnne said enthusiastically with a smile. She was holding a small box containing a hand mixer while in the long checkout line.
“There she is, Roy.” Johnny saw a woman sitting on the floor with a cut on her forehead and scratches on her arms. She held tightly to a small box containing a hand mixer. Another lady was sitting opposite of her with scratched hands and a black eye gripping the same box.
“It’s mine!” The lady with the injured head exclaimed.
“Let go, it’s mine I tell you. I had it first!” The lady with the black eye stated.
“Ladies, we’re the paramedics. I’m Roy DeSoto and this is my partner, Johnny Gage.”
“GIVE IT TO ME NOW!”
“You tell her Hilda!” Came a voice from the crowd. “Hit her!”
“YOU’LL NEVER GET IT!”
“Way to go, Sally!” Shouted a woman standing close to Johnny.
“Ladies, we’re here to help you,” Johnny said.
“If you’d just release the box, we’ll be able to take a look at you both,” Roy said in a calm tone of voice.
“Are you crazy? Leave us alone!” Hilda shouted. “I’ve had a hold of this mixer since the store opened.”
“Oh no you didn’t, you old bat!” Sally shouted.
“If I were a bat, I’d hit you over the head and knock you out cold!” Hilda shouted.
“Now look, ladies,” Johnny said. “If we are going to be able to help you, both of you will have to let go of the box.”
“I will not let go! It’s mine!” Hilda shouted as she jerked on the box.
“We don’t need your help! Get out of here!” Sally shouted as she jerked it back towards her.
Vince made his way through the crowd. “Can I be of some assistance, fellows?”
“Well, yes, Vince as a matter of fact, I think you can be,” Johnny said with a grin.
“What’s the problem?”
“You see, Vince, we can’t treat them if they are holding on to that box.”
“Let it drop, ladies!” Vince said in a very authoritative loud voice.
“You heard him, Sally, he said let go!” Hilda shouted.
“No, you let go! I want it and I had it first!” Sally shouted.
“You did not. I had my hands on it before you ever came into the store!” Hilda screamed.
“Ladies, please, where is your Christmas Spirit? There are other mixers. That’s not the only one in town,” Vince explained as he tried to reason with them.
“It is at this price!” Sally shouted. “Once they are gone, they’re gone and this is the last one!”
“I got up at four a.m. this morning and waited outside and I’m taking this home with me,” Hilda said confidently.
“Oh, no way! I was out there at three fifty-five a.m. and I intend to walk out of this store carrying this mixer with me,” Sally said as she gave the box a hard tug.
Hilda tugged back.
“Ladies, now I’ve had enough. Drop that box or else you’ll both go to jail!” The ladies looked at Vince as he shouted his demand to drop the box. They could see the determination in his eyes. He meant business. The ladies finally dropped the box at the same time.
“Now that’s bet…” Johnny never had a chance to finish. About thirty women in the store scrambled for the box and piled on top of Johnny, Roy, and Vince knocking them to the floor to retrieve the fallen mixer.
“Ouch! That’s my hair you pulled,” One lady screamed.
“Get your hands off of it!” Another woman yelled.
“Darn I dropped it!” Came a shout from the crowd.
“I’ve got it!” Shouted one woman. “I dropped it!”
“Here it is!” Shouted a young lady.
“I have it!” Shouted a lady who pulled up the IV box. She quickly dropped in on the floor when she realized it was not the mixer.
“Let go of it!” A tall woman who had one of her hands on the mixer box shouted.
Finally Vince who had been smashed against a wall, managed to blow his whistle. It didn’t phase the women. He blew his whistle again and managed to shout. “Everyone stop right now!” The women slowly got quiet. “This is no way to act. Now everyone get up off the floor and let’s see if the two paramedics are on the bottom of this pile.” One by one the women started getting up and chattering to each other. Finally Johnny was able to move. Roy was still in the middle of the floor. He slowly got up. He had been hit in the head with the mixer box at some time during the ordeal.
“Now the next person who touches that mixer box is going to jail,” Vince announced loudly. All eyes were on Vince as the women watched Vince slowly move toward the mixer.
The box was on the floor beside Roy’s foot. Vince reached over and picked it up. He opened the carton, removed some cardboard, and looked inside. He pulled out a beater and held it up for the crowd to see. “It looks like the mixer has been damaged. The beaters are bent out of shape.”
Groans and moans came from the crowd. “Now break it up. If you aren’t in line or buying other merchandise, then leave the store and let the paramedics work.” No one moved very fast. They stood staring at the mixer box and the two women still on the floor. “You heard me. Clear out if you don’t have any business in here!” Vince shouted.
The crowd began to disperse. Vince turned and looked at Johnny and Roy. “Are you two all right?” He could see that the paramedics looked like they had been in a battle. They had scratches and bruises on their faces, arms, and hands. Roy also had a bump on his forehead.
Johnny looked at Hilda. “Now how did this happen?”
“Well you see, The All Small Appliance Store has this sale every year on the day after Thanksgiving. The stores all open at five a.m. sharp you know. I stood in line a long time and it was going to be my aunt’s. That’s why I wanted it.”
“What?” Johnny asked puzzled by her confusing comment. It appeared that other than some minor scratches and a few bruises, that the crowd of people had not injured the lady.
“The mixer. It was suppose to be a Christmas present for my Aunt Lydia. She’s sixty years old and she just loves to bake. She has a cold now. That’s why she couldn’t come with me. Of course since she couldn’t come shopping with me I decided that I’d get here early and get her a Christmas present. You see her mixer broke the other day and I said to her, ‘Aunt Lydia looks like you need a new mixer.’ Well, I have to go to the theatre this morning at seven o’clock and I decided to come down here first and get her one and well even though she knew what her present was going to…”
“Ma’am, I just want to know about your head. How did you injure your head?”
“I’m getting to that if you’ll just let me finish. Now where was I? Yes, I remember. Aunt Lydia looked at me and told me that would be a wonderful gift so you see that’s why I wanted it. And now it looks like I have to go somewhere else to get her one and pay a lot more for it than I would have here.” She looked at Johnny and smiled.
“Yes, ma’am. But you still haven’t told me how your head got injured.”
“My head?” Hilda asked as she started to stand.
“Ma’am, don’t get up. Just stay seated until I take a look at your head.” Johnny reached in the black box for a four by four.
“Yes, ma’am your head. How did you cut your forehead?”
“Oh I didn’t cut it,” Hilda said as she laughed.
“Yes, ma’am, I’m looking at it and it’s cut right here.”
Johnny started moving his hand toward her head to clean the wound for her.
“No, don’t touch it!”
“Ma’am, calm down now. This won’t hurt I promise.”
“It’s not that young man. It’s make-up.”
“Make-up?” Johnny questioned with a puzzled look.
“You mean that your head wasn’t injured here?” Johnny inquired.
“Oh heaven’s no,” She laughed. “You mean that you thought that…I just have a few scratches and bruises from this is all.” She could tell Johnny was bewildered. “I’m an actress at a small local theatre and I’m going to a practice right after I finish shopping today. My husband is the make-up artist on the set and he just put the stage make-up on Sally and me before we left. Sally is another actress in the play today and she’s really a good friend of mine. Or she was until she got a hold of that mixer and wouldn’t let me have it. It’s a fake cut.”
“Fake cut?” Johnny said, still uncertain.
“Yes, take my word for it.”
Johnny shrugged. “All right. If you’re absolutely sure you’re okay then.”
“I am, thanks.” The woman stood up and looked at Sally. “Come on, let’s go. We still have time to go to another store if we hurry.” Sally got up and the two women left.
Johnny moved closer to Roy. “How was everything here?”
“You’re not going to believe this but she told me that it was make-up.”
“I got the same story from Hilda.”
Roy looked at Johnny. “You know, I sure am glad JoAnne was here because otherwise she’d never believe that I got all these scratches, bruises, and a bump on the head in a store this early.”
Johnny laughed. “I was here and I don’t even believe it!”
“Is everything all right?” Vince asked as he walked up to Johnny and Roy.
“I think so, Vince,” Johnny said. “I don’t know who called this in, Vince, but neither of them were actually hurt.”
Vince shrugged his shoulders. “Well, in that crowd of people who knows.”
Johnny and Roy walked to the squad. “I guess you were actually the only one injured in all that, Roy.”
Roy shook his head in disbelief. “Yeah I suppose you’re right, Johnny. At least JoAnne got one of those mixers anyway.”
“I saw her in line with one, Johnny. I was surprised.”
“It could have been her in that tug of war then.”
“I’m glad it wasn’t, partner.”
“Are you wanting to go by Rampart and have a Doc look at that bump on your head?” Johnny asked as they put the equipment in the squad.
“No, partner. I don’t think so. I’ll be fine. It doesn’t hurt much.”
”If you say so, Roy. Man, just look at all those cars in the parking lot! The Christmas spirit is really present here isn’t?” Johnny exclaimed as the paramedics got into the squad.
Roy laughed. “Is that what you call it, Johnny? Remind me if we get a call to the mall again on the day after Thanksgiving to wear my helmet inside.” They both laughed as Roy pulled away from the mall and Johnny cleared the squad for another call.