Disclaimer: All things Emergency! belong to Universal and Mark VII.
Johnny Gage swung a left into Roy DeSoto’s driveway and shut off the engine. Reaching over to the passenger seat, he grabbed the brightly colored bag of goodies for his partner and his family. Slipping from his truck, he took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet fragrance of flowers recently planted by Joanne.
Roy answered his knock almost immediately. “Hey, Johnny. C’mon in.” DeSoto still wore his Easter Sunday clothes, though his tie was loosened.
“Hey.” Johnny stepped into the foyer and sat the bag down on the floor. He slipped out of the light jacket he wore, and automatically hung it on the coat rack in the corner.
“I’m going to go change clothes,” said Roy, “Joanne’s in the kitchen. Kids are upstairs. Be back in a few minutes.”
“All right.” Grabbing the bag off the floor, Johnny headed for the kitchen.
“Hi, Joanne. Happy Easter!”
Roy’s wife turned away from the stove where she’d been assembling a sweet potato casserole.
“Johnny!” Wiping her hands on a dish towel, Joanne walked over and gave the dark-haired man a big hug. “Happy Easter to you too!”
He reached into the bag and pulled out a miniature glass basket. Nestled inside was a speckled glass egg and baby chick.
“For you,” he grinned and handed Joanne her present.
“John Gage, you shouldn’t have,” Joanne scolded, “But it’s adorable! Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I brought the kids something too.”
“They’re upstairs. Why don’t I call them down? There’s beer or pop in the fridge. Help yourself.”
While she went to call Chris and Jennifer downstairs, Johnny grabbed a cola from the refrigerator and sat down at the table. A moment or two later, Joanne returned.
“I hope you’re hungry,” she said while placing her Easter gift on a little shelf by the kitchen window. “I’ve got a ham in the oven. Poor Richard’s Potatoes and a Sweet Potato Casserole too. And I promise—no colcannon or anything green in sight—except the salad.”
Joanne’s teasing about his overindulgence on St. Patrick’s Day, which had left him sick as a dog, brought a slight blush to Johnny’s cheeks, and he grinned sheepishly.
“Don’t worry. I learned my lesson.”
Johnny patted his belly. “And I’m starving today.”
“Even better.” Joanne laughed and went back to putting the finishing touches on the sweet potatoes, just as Chris and Jennifer popped into the room.
Both children gave the paramedic a hug.
“Well, Miss Jennifer, you look mighty nice in your Easter outfit.”
The six-year-old smiled and twirled, showing off her yellow dress and white bonnet with yellow flowers and ribbon adorning the brim.
“Do I look pretty?”
“You sure do.”
“Mommy even bought me white gloves to match my shoes.”
“Well, Daddy said I look hand-sum,” interrupted Christopher, “and hand-sum is better than pretty.”
Johnny looked at the 8-year-old boy, who was dressed quite similarly to his father when he’d answered the door. The boy’s tie was even loosened like his dad’s had been.
Gage chuckled. “Your dad was right. You are handsome. But, some day, you’ll think pretty is much better.”
“Nuh uh. No way!”
“Listen, I brought you guys each something.” Reaching in the bag, he handed each child their Easter treat. Chris was thrilled with his chocolate dinosaur. Jennifer just looked at her chocolate bunny and nibbled on her bottom lip.
“Wow, that looks like some good chocolate,” observed Roy, when he entered the room. “You might wanna hide it from your old dad in case he gets hungry. Did you say thanks?”
“Thank you, Uncle Johnny,” chorused the kids.
“And, Pally, I didn’t forget about you.” Johnny reached into the bag and pulled out a jar of black jelly beans—his partner’s favorite.
Roy grinned. “Thanks.”
Joanne sidled up behind her husband.
“We didn’t forget about you either, Johnny,” she smiled and handed Gage a large plastic Easter bowl, decorated with bunnies and chicks and filled with chocolates and other goodies.
“Mommy, can we show Uncle Johnny our Easter baskets?” pleaded Chris.
“Yes, of course. If he wants to see them. And then I want you both to change out of your Easter clothes.”
Johnny quickly thanked Roy and Joanne for their gift before following the two children upstairs. He trailed Chris to his room first and listened while the little boy exuberantly pointed out everything in his basket. Gage begged for a malted milk ball and popped it in his mouth.
Thanking the boy for sharing, Johnny told him he’d see him downstairs in a few minutes and walked down the hall to Jennifer’s bedroom. Tapping on the open door, he peeked in the room.
“Hey, Jen, I’m here,” Johnny walked in the room and sat down on the edge of the bed, “so you gonna show me what you got?”
The little girl shook her head.
Puzzled, Johnny said, “You’re not going to show me your basket?”
Again, she shook her head but said nothing.
“How come? Don’t you want me to see it? Is there something wrong with it?”
Johnny was surprised to see the little girl’s lower lip begin to tremble, and it looked as if she was going to cry. Reaching out, he patted Jennifer on the back.
“Hey! Hey, it’s okay, Jen. Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
She remained quiet.
Just when he thought she wasn’t going to answer, the little girl whispered, “I think the Easter Bunny is mad at me.”
Fighting back a grin, he said, “What makes you say that?”
“Because . . .”
Johnny waited patiently for her to continue.
“Because the Easter Bunny gaved Chris a giant egg in his basket, and all I got is a rock.”
Thinking he hadn’t heard correctly, Johnny echoed, “A rock?”
Slowly Jennifer got up off the bed and approached her dresser. She retrieved the pastel-colored straw basket and brought it over to the dark-haired man.
In the center of the basket was a giant egg, Instead of being smooth like Chris’s, this one was rough and craggy looking. Even with the pink frosting flower on top, the centerpiece did indeed resemble a rock. Johnny suspected it was in reality simply a coconut egg.
Holding back a chuckle, Johnny said, “Oh, Jen, I don’t think the Easter Bunny is mad at you. Why didn’t you ask your mommy or daddy about this?”
“ ‘cause I thought they were mad at me too. Maybe they told the Easter Bunny to give me a rock.”
“That ol’ Easter Bunny gave you lots of other candy though.”
Jennifer shrugged. “I musta been a bad girl. Chris got a pretty egg.”
Gage had an inkling that nothing he said was going to change the little girl’s mind. He gave her a hug.
“Hey, I gotta get back downstairs. You better change like your mom wanted.”
Johnny jogged downstairs and searched out his partner’s whereabouts.
“You might wanna go talk to Jennifer.”
“She thinks the Easter Bunny is mad at her.” Johnny went on to explain how the little girl was convinced the “egg” in her basket was really a rock.
When he was finished, the two shared a chuckle.
Starting for the stairs, Roy glanced back over his shoulder. “I can tell you one thing. I sure never saw this one coming!” Shaking his head, he climbed the stairs to go have a talk with his little daughter.
A rock? Cap and the guys are gonna get a good laugh outta this one.
Roy chuckled once more before schooling his face into a more serious expression. He raised his hand to knock on Jen’s door.
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Stories by Vanessa Easter Stories