The Easy Way Out Isn’t Always Simple
By Audrey W.
The noise was followed by a louder, “PSST!”
With his left foot still propped up just inside his locker as he tied his shoe, his blue uniform shirt hanging open, Roy DeSoto glanced over his right shoulder. There in the doorway of the locker room was his partner John Gage.
The younger man was already completely in uniform, obviously having gotten there quite a bit earlier.
“’Bout time ya turned around,” he whispered.
“I was a little preoccupied,” the other explained as he finished tying his shoe.
“Nevermind,” the whisperer continued. Still just halfway inside the room, he glanced around, causing Roy to do the same by instinct. “Look, I need a favor from you.”
Roy lowered his foot, then turned to face Gage while buttoning his shirt.
“Why the hushed tone?”
“Because I don’t want anyone but you to hear.”
Okay, that made sense. He had to give him that one.
“So shoot. What’s the favor?”
John stepped the rest of the way inside and stopped the swinging door behind him to make sure it was closed.
“Cap said I should get a hair cut. That my hair's kinda gettin' to be a little on the long side. But I don’t wanna go to a barber shop where they’ll practically buzz my head.”
“And. . .?”
“Well, you mentioned awhile back how Joanne told you she’s seeing more and more guys gettin’ haircuts at the beauty parlor.”
Now Roy completely understood the whispering. Many times he’d worry when he had his partner figured out, wondering about his own sanity because Johnny sometimes came up with the craziest notions he’d ever heard. However, in this case it was obvious, the younger man didn’t want any of the engine crew on duty with them to know he was actually thinking of going to a beauty shop to get his hair done.
. . .er, cut. . .
Lots of guys would likely think the same way.
“Let me see if I got this right. You want to be one of those guys who go to a beauty shop.”
“Not just any. Joanne’s. I wanna go to the same one Joanne goes to. That way I’ll know for sure the ladies there are used to doing men’s hair.”
“Okay, if that’s what you really want.”
“I do,” he assured. “I really do. You know, maybe just kinda get it cut, but at the same time style, too.”
“I’ll just have to call Jo and get the number from her.”
John put up his right hand to stop his partner before the other could even move.
“About that. . .do you think she could make the appointment for me, too? I’d feel kinda . . .uncomfortable,” he shrugged, “You know, callin’ a ladies’ place and setting up an appointment and stuff.”
Roy gave the whole thing a moment of thought.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes,” John said louder than he’d spoken thus far. “Yes, I’m sure. I just not used ta callin’ a place like that.”
“All right. I just need to know if you want a shampoo, too?”
He screwed up his face. “A shampoo? I dunno, Roy. How am I gonna know if my hair’s gonna be dirty at the time?”
“It doesn’t have to be dirty. They’ll do it anyway. But they have to know so they can schedule enough time. Trust me, I hear Jo make her appointments. She mentions this stuff quite a bit.”
Gage sighed. “Okay. Fine. No. No, I don’t want a shampoo. I just wanna get in and outta there before anyone I don’t want to see me does. Just have ‘er make it for some afternoon we’re off the next couple days, that way I can shower first.”
“Okay, I’ll go call her now.”
“Not now, Roy. Not now. It’s almost roll call. Besides, I’d rather you do it when the engine crew isn’t with us. Even if we hafta stop and use a pay phone somewhere else.”
“Got it. No shampoo, call later.”
“And don’t mention it to anyone.”
“Not even Joanne?”
As they headed out the doorway and into the apparatus bay, John glanced at his partner, an annoyed expression on his face.
“Ha ha. You know what I mean.”
Roy rolled his eyes. He sure hoped Johnny knew what he was getting himself into. The atmosphere of a beauty shop was a far cry from that of the barber’s.
“Okay, here’s all the information you need,” Roy said, while holding out a small piece of paper for Gage.
He turned from where he was washing the dishes and eyed the note.
“Just set it over there on the counter.” John motioned to the left with his head. “You think you could help with the dishes now?”
The two paramedics had taken advantage of the engine crew being dispatched to a rubbish fire just after lunch and called Joanne to line up an appointment for John. She’d called right back with the day, time and name of the beautician he’d want to ask for.
As soon as Roy grabbed a towel to dry the dishes, Gage stopped washing.
He quickly dried his hands on his trousers, then snatched up the piece of paper, stuffing it in his shirt pocket.
“I don’t dare leave this thing laying around. Someone who isn’t s’posed to see it might.”
Roy glanced around the room. Just as he’d suspected, they were still alone. Gage was really in top secret mode.
“You ready to get washing again? They might get suspicious if they come back and we’re not done yet.”
“Right! Right. . .”
It was the easiest he’d ever gotten his partner to get back to the chore he disliked most.
Roy glanced over from the driver’s seat in the squad to his uncharacteristically quiet passenger. He and John were on their way back to the station after taking the young victim of a fall from a tree house to Rampart General Hospital.
“What’s the name on that paper I gave you again?”
Gage had been staring at the street ahead, apparently lost in thought. “Hmmm?” He asked as he turned his head.
“The paper I wrote down the information on. What’s the name on it?”
“I don’ know. . .Kathy. . .Betty. . .something ‘e’.”
He pulled it out of his pocket and looked. “Yup. Marcie. Why? Is she an old lady?”
“Quite the opposite.”
That got his attention more and he turned in his seat to face the senior paramedic.
“She’s young? Is she single, too?”
“I think so.”
A slight grin spread across John’s face. “Ya know, this beauty shop idea might just be the start of a whole new thing for me.”
“Well, I wouldn’t get too excited.”
“She’s a dog?”
Roy shook his head. “No. Not at all. I mean, I’ve only seen her once or twice when I’ve dropped Jo off for an appointment, but she looked very pretty. She kind of resembles Barbra Eden, just a little younger. Look, you’re just going to have to meet her and you can decide for yourself what you think.”
“Barbara Eden? Are you kiddin’ me?”
Roy took a quick glance at him. “Nope.”
John chewed his lower lip in thought. After a few seconds, he asked, “When you say she looks like Barbara Eden only younger. . .do you mean what she looked like in her earlier days on ‘I Dream of Jeanie’ or later in the show’s run?”
“When she dressed more normal, so I guess in later seasons. And I said kind of resembles, not that she looks just like her.”
“I’ll take resembles.”
“Kinda.” He sighed. “Barbara Eden. . .I wonder why she’s still single though.”
Roy couldn’t hide the frustration in his voice. “She probably just hasn’t found the right guy. You’re single and nothing’s wrong -- never mind.”
“Never mind. I just lost my own argument.”
“Oh, you’re a regular comedian today.” He shifted slightly in the seat. “Seriously, did Joanne say anything might be wrong with ‘er?”
His voice still laced with annoyance, Roy explained, “She just said that it’s a busy place, so you’re lucky someone had some time open with such short notice. It’s not like we’re close personal friends with her, she cuts and style’s my wife’s hair now and then is all. We’re not fixing you up on a date.”
“It might just work out that way though.”
“Yeah? Well, just don’t get mad at me if it doesn’t.”
The younger man then read over the name on the paper once again to himself before returning it to his pocket. His smile widened as he went back to looking out the windshield. All of a sudden he couldn’t wait for his appointment with Marcie.
Roy just wished he’d recommended Johnny stick with a barber.
Two days later, Roy was in search of his partner at Station 51. Back on duty for another twenty-four hour shift, he hadn’t heard from Gage since hours before the haircut. He’d thought about calling him, but decided it was probably best to just wait it out to see how it went. It wasn’t like they hung out together every time they were off anyway. Each had their own things going much of the time, him with his family and John with his single life, whatever it was he did.
This time in uniform well before roll call, Roy peeked into the dayroom where Marco and Chet, two engine crew members from their shift, were hanging out.
“Have you seen Johnny?”
Marco shook his head from where he sat at the table. Chet was seated on a couch across the room from the doorway. He looked up from where he was reading a newspaper.
“No. But if you find him first, remind him he still owes me two bucks on the bet he lost about that new nurse at Rampart.”
Roy shook his head as he walked toward the rear of the trucks to see if Gage’s Land Rover was in the parking lot yet. He hadn’t been surprised when Johnny had bet Chet he would have a date with the new nurse at Rampart within two weeks. He also wasn’t surprised a week after that time had expired, the thrifty paramedic hadn’t paid his two dollars in the loss yet. But Chet would certainly get it sooner or later. It may’ve taken time in some instances, but John always upheld his end of a deal.
He saw that the Rover was indeed there now. That meant his partner was likely in the locker room getting ready. A sort of mix between dejavu’ and dread ran through his mind as Roy opened the swinging door.
May as well get it over with. . .
His first thought when he saw Gage was that he didn’t look any different. At all. He was going to ask how did it go, but the words that came out were, “Did you even go?”
John turned to look at the new arrival from where he stood in front of his locker.
“If you’re referring to the appointment with Marcie. Yes__I did.”
“Well, did she forget to do something? Like. . .oh I don’t know. . . cut your hair?”
“Forget?” He shook his head. “She didn’t forget.”
Still scrutinizing his partner’s appearance, Roy took a few steps toward the wall of lockers. The door closed behind him.
“How much did you tell her to take off?”
“I didn’t. I just said I wanted a haircut, but not to make it too drastic.”
“Apparently she listened a little too well.”
“Listened? Listened? That chic only listens to herself. No wonder she’s single. A guy probably can’t get a chance to propose! That is if he was even crazy enough ta do it.”
Roy walked over to the sinks across from the lockers and leaned with his backside against the counter. As he folded his arms across his chest he stated, “I’m not sure I’m following you.”
Gage buttoned his blue uniform shirt while he asked, “Roy, when Joanne gets her hair cut by Marcie, does it even look any different from before she went in?”
He gave it thought.
“A little. It’s styled, but I guess not as much of a difference as when she goes to another hairdresser there.”
John gave a firm nod. “I’m not surprised.”
“I’m still not following you.”
Gage changed out of his blue jeans and reached inside his locker for his uniform trousers. As he pulled them out on a hanger, he glanced at his partner.
“When Marcie’s cutting hair, her mouth moves more then the scissors! On and on she goes,” he added with a wave of his left hand. “About her mother, father, sister, brother. . .step brother, half sister. An’ just when ya think she’s done? She starts in about her five nieces and nephews. Five, Roy. Five. That’s a lot of extra talkin’.”
“All that while she was cutting your hair?”
“If you wanna call it that. I tried to break in with some talk of my own. . .you know, about some of the stuff we see or do on rescues. Maybe impress ‘er a little. But do you think I could get a word in edgewise?”
Roy hesitantly shook his head, but he wasn’t sure Gage had even noticed.
“Not a chance. She just went on and on some more, with an occasional clip of my hair. Or at least it sounded like the scissors did something, but she kept it contained in the cover over my shoulders when she took it off if so.”
“Sorry. Joanne never mentioned she was a blabbermouth.”
“They all do a lot of talking in that place. It’s like being a rooster in a barn with a bunch of cacklin’ hens, Roy. It’s just that the others actually pause and wait for a response. My guess is, Joanne’s just used to it. She’s one of the hens.”
Roy decided he’d let Johnny’s last comment slide. He’d heard his wife and some of her friends when they’d gotten together at their house for Tupperware parties or when the bridge club came over. It wasn’t much different from what Gage described of the beauty shop. If he had to be honest, he’d had the same thought.
“So what’re you going to tell Cap?”
Gage was dressed now, except for his shoes. As he sat down on the bench in front of the row of lockers, he offered, “Simple. I’m gonna tell ‘um the truth,” he shrugged. “I got my hair cut.”
“But he’s going to notice it doesn’t look any different.”
“Roy, you’re not thinkin’,” he said as he pointed to his own head. He held up his right hand and counted off each item with a finger, pulling each down with the other hand as he did so. “Cap said he wanted me to go get a haircut. I did. I have the receipt to prove I did. He never said how much of a hair cut.” A smile spread across his face. “I’m in the clear. I did exactly what I was told to do.”
In his own sometimes wacky way of reasoning, Gage was right. Roy couldn’t argue with that. He doubted the captain would either. In fact now that he'd thought more about it, if he had to guess, Captain Stanley would probably decide John's hair wasn't nearly long enough to make it worth the headache to press the issue. But he surmised it still would’ve been a whole lot simpler overall if Johnny had just gone to a barber and gotten a real cut.
Once Gage's shoes were on and the two paramedics were headed for the door, Roy reminded his partner, “Oh, by the way, Chet says he wants his two dollars from that bet you lost about the new nurse.”
John stopped and looked at him. “Hey, whataya say I bet him double or nothin’ he can’t get a date with Marcie?”
“I say have mercy, forget Marcie and pay him the money you owe him.”
He gently pushed John out the doorway and into the apparatus bay. He didn’t want to complicate things at the moment by reminding him that finally paying the two dollars to Chet was going to be the least of his problems once Captain Stanley saw the receipt was from a beauty shop. Apparently Johnny had momentarily forgotten the most important part of his original master plan was to keep that information top secret.
This was inspired when my husband went to a lady who had cut my hair to have his cut. I didn't warn him she'd talk his ear off. . .and she did! lol While writing this story, I asked him to name an actress during the 1960s or 70s who was really pretty and well known. He is the one who came up with Barbara Eden. To show how life is stranger than fiction, two days after this was completed, the episode of her as a manicurist in a barber shop on the Andy Griffith Show came on. :o)
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September Picture 2010