Coulda, Shoulda. . .
By Audrey W.
John Gage’s grin widened as he continued his conversation on the payphone at Station 51.
“Red hair and big brown eyes, huh?
“How old is she again?
“Twenty-one and a few months, huh?
The paramedic held the telephone receiver down, his right hand over the mouth piece as he addressed his partner seated on the couch across the room.
But DeSoto was engrossed in the daily newspaper and didn’t immediately look up.
The senior paramedic set the open paper on his lap and waited.
“Is it a good idea ta date a chick with the same zodiac sign? I mean, are two of the same s’posed to get along?”
“I don’t know. I don’t really follow the stars.”
John frowned slightly. But as he removed his hand from the mouthpiece and raised the receiver again, Roy offered, “I’d think you would have a lot in common.”
Gage’s smile returned. “You’re right. Thanks, man. What? No, not you, Eric,” he explained to his friend on the other end of the line. “I was talkin’ ta Roy.”
After that was cleared up, he questioned, “So what does she like?”
“Hiking. . .uh huh. Water? To drink or swim?
“Camping? Far-out. I can’t find a girl who’s too keen on that.
“I guess you’re right. I just did.
“And you’re sure she’s pretty?
This could be the best blind date he’d ever had. Except there was just one more thing he needed to clear up.
“What about restaurants? Does she hafta go to a fancy place?
“She’d even eat a take-out burger if that’s what I suggested?”
He couldn’t believe his luck. A perfect girl, and the date wouldn’t cost him big bucks.
“You’re on,” John decided, a lopsided grin on his face. “When do I get to meet ‘er?
“Tomorrow? Well, of course that’s okay, man. I’m off for two days after tomorrow morning.
“Good deal. I’ll be there after three.”
He replaced the receiver in its cradle and gave a satisfied sigh. After a few seconds, he hopped off the counter in hopes of getting Roy’s attention.
“Don’tcha wanna know what that was all about?”
“I already do,” came an answer from behind the raised paper.
“Well, do ya wanna know more?”
Roy lowered the newspaper again and eyed his friend. “I thought you didn’t like blind dates anymore. After that last one Kirk set you up on.”
“That was different. He held back too much information. This time I got it all.”
He gave it thought. “Let me know how it went.”
John was disappointed, but when the engine crew came in after returning from a run, he made sure they saw that he was happy.
“What’s with you?” Chet Kelly asked as he took a seat at the table.
“Yeah, Johnny, you look like you just won a big prize.”
“Better than a big prize, Marco.”
Mike Stoker looked to see Roy’s expression. It was a cross between wary and happy. Probably was glad his partner was happy, but wary it would last, Mike surmised.
“So you gonna tell us or what?” Chet wondered.
Johnny pulled out a chair and sat across from the curious fire fighter.
“I’ll tell ya. I just got a date with a beautiful redhead with big brown eyes, a trim figure and she even loves the outdoors!”
The men looked around.
“Where is she?” Marco asked.
“We didn’t see anyone leave as we pulled up,” Mike said.
“She was on the phone. Well, actually, she wasn’t. I got a date with ‘er through Eric from 16’s. She’s a real looker,” he beamed.
“Ahhh. . .a blind date.”
Chet looked at Mike, then John. “I thought you swore off blind dates after that fiasco with Kirk.”
“That was different. He didn’t give all the details.”
Chet sat back and shook his head. “I don’t know, John.” Perhaps if he could get Gage to question his own judgment, he could step in and go out with this perfect babe. But the dark-haired paramedic was too sure of the deal.
“There’s no way I’m backin’ outta this date. No__way.”
John glanced around at the others as he mentally gave himself a pat on the back for trusting another friend to set him up with a chick.
The beginning of the next shift. . .
Roy looked over from where he was changing clothes in front of his locker as John came into the locker room and slowly made his way to the one a couple of doors down. The younger man opened his locker and seemed entirely too quiet for a guy who’d just had the date of his life during the time off.
“So, how’d it go?”
“I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“Ah, c’mon. It couldn’t have been that bad.”
With no response, Roy tried again.
“She didn’t like you?”
John peeked out from behind his locker door, a matter-of-fact expression on his face. “Oh she loved me. She adored me. She’da come home with me if I let ‘er.”
His face again disappeared behind the door and Roy was left to wonder.
“So what happened?”
“Roy, I said I don’t wanna talk about it.”
“You really think no one’s gonna ask? You may as well tell me, then we can think of a better way for you to spring the news on the others.”
John gave it thought. Still in blue jeans, but his uniform shirt on and hanging open, he sighed. “Okay. But ya gotta promise you won’t laugh.”
“I won’t laugh.”
“I didn’t hear a promise in there.”
Gage once again peeked around the door. “What. . .you promise what?”
With a roll of his eyes, Roy reiterated, “I promise I won’t laugh.”
John paused, then turned and sat on the inside edge of his locker. With his gaze locked on the floor, his uniform trousers in hand, he offered, “Turns out Eric tends to leave out a few details, too. Or one very big one. Aww, heck, it was a huge one!”
Gage shook his head. “She’s a dog.”
Roy drew back, his eyebrows raised in puzzlement.
His partner looked up at him and nodded. “A real dog, Roy. As in bow-wow.” When he saw DeSoto still wasn’t comprehending what he meant, he added, “As in give the dog a bone, Old mother Hubbard’s pet. . .”
“I thought she was a pretty girl with red hair and big brown eyes. . .a trim figure. . .liked the outdoors. . .”
“She is. And she does. She’s an Irish Setter.” John again shook his head. “The one time I don’t ask ‘Is she a dog?’, she is. Literally. I coulda asked. . .in fact I shoulda asked. . .then he couldn’ta pulled it off. . .but, no. . .” he trailed off with a wave of his left hand. “Man. . .”
He got to his feet, the ‘date that wasn’t’ still on his mind, and turned toward his locker to continue changing.
“A dog. . .”
“A dog,” Gage said firmly. “So how’m I gonna break this to the guys and save face?”
Now ready for duty, Roy shrugged. “Well, you can always tell them she was a nice Irish girl. But not quite your type.”
John suddenly brightened. He quickly changed into his uniform pants and hurried to get his shirt tucked in. “This is gonna be great. Just great!”
The younger man fastened his belt as he explained, “Who would be interested in a nice Irish girl? Maybe an 'Irish' fireman.”
“You wouldn’t.” But the look on his partner’s face told him otherwise. “You would.”
John waggled his eyebrows. The recycled prank would be fun.
Two days later. . .
A not-so-happy Chet Kelly climbed out of his VW bus in the parking lot behind Station 51. As he walked by Roy and John, who were standing behind Gage’s Land Rover, he commented, “Nice Irish girl, huh?”
John giggled. “You know you coulda asked more about ‘er.”
“You really should have,” Roy agreed.
“Just wait, John. Just wait.”
After he was in the apparatus bay and on his way to the locker room, Roy eyed Gage.
“Sounds like you may be in for some revenge.”
John snorted a laugh as he pushed off the back of the vehicle. “Roy, there’s nothin’ Chet could do that would top that blind date prank. Nothin’.”
Roy suddenly imagined the dog as she was introduced to John, then Chet. Maybe at the time she was thinking she should’ve been allowed to ask a few questions before meeting her ‘blind dates’. He was sure she would’ve if she could’ve.
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June Picture 2009