Eight Fringed Squawkers

By Audrey W.




It was three o'clock in the afternoon when the klaxons sounded and LA Dispatch sent Squad 51 out on a response for an 'unknown rescue'. After trotting to their squad and getting a slip of paper with the address on it from Captain Stanley, paramedics John Gage and Roy DeSoto were on their way, unaware of just how challenging the rescue would be.




Six minutes later, the two men found themselves standing on the porch of a yellow one-story house with eight little five-year-old girls in front of them. The children were wearing brown paper 'skirts' cut  into strips to resemble 'grass' over their regular clothing and were all trying to explain the situation at once, the words 'curling' and 'stuck' being about the only ones coming out clearly.


"Do you get what they're talkin' about?" Johnny wondered, figuring maybe being a childless bachelor left him at a disadvantage.


Roy shook his head. "No."


"I've heard birds squawk less."


Roy rolled his eyes at the comment, then addressed the still excited group of girls. "Okay, one at a time explain, so we can understand you."


When most didn't let up, Johnny tapped his partner on the shoulder and motioned for him to step aside. He then took over with, "Look, girls. . .all of ya, be quiet!"


Suddenly everyone was silent and the men had hope of getting to the cause of the commotion.


"Now," Gage began, "What's all this about?"


But all eight girls started over again, eliciting a sigh from both men.


"Just show us," Roy stated loudly.


With that, the little fringe-skirted girls turned and headed inside and down a hallway, Johnny and Roy right behind them. When they got to a bathroom at the end of the hall, there was a ninth little girl sitting on the closed toilet seat, tears running down her cheeks and a brush handle sticking out of the side of her hair.


Johnny glanced at Roy who was already familiar with the type of situation.


"Wha. . .?"


"It's the round brush syndrome."


"The what?"


But Roy didn't repeat his explanation. Instead, he addressed the other girls who had now settled down. "Uh. . .is there an adult with you here?"


Eight heads shook back and forth, one girl adding, "No, sir."


"You're all alone?"


Again eight heads indicated 'no' while the same little girl explained, "My mommy went ta get my brother, an' my big sister is suppos' ta be watchin' us. It's my birfday!"


Johnny glanced out toward the hallway. "Well, where is she?"


"In da backyard. She tode us ta leave her 'lone, so we called you. Mommy says a fireman can do anything. Even get a kitty outta a tree."


The paramedics once again exchanged glances, not sure whether to feel flattered or annoyed.


"Well, happy birthday," Roy finally offered.


In the meantime, stepping closer, Johnny had noticed the rest of the round brush stuck in the upset girl's hair, his partner's earlier explanation sort of making sense. "So I guess we just gotta get this thing out, huh?"


"It's not as easy as you make it sound," DeSoto commented.


"Can't we just unwind it?"


Roy shook his head. "You'd think so, but it's amazing how it only makes it worse."


"So what're we gonna do? Cut it out?"


At that comment, the girl wailed.


"Uh. . .I guess that's not an option."


"We'll have to work it free a little at a time."


Girls, Johnny thought as he and Roy squatted down in front of her to start their 'rescue'. Then as a side comment to his partner questioned, "What are we rescuing, the girl or the brush?"


Roy again rolled his eyes. "Just help me out here."


After quite a while had passed and they were still working on getting the brush freed, Johnny again questioned his partner. "How come we can get people out of burning buildings, wrecked cars and just about anything else, but we can't get one lousy brush out of a kid's hair?"


"It's a phenomenon I doubt we'll ever understand. I've been through it with Joanne once and Jennifer twice," he explained, then shook his head. "I still don't understand exactly how it gets so tangled up."


After nearly thirty minutes had passed, the 'rescue' was complete, the little girl with a few less hairs in her head, but none cut out. The eight fringe-skirted friends were once again jabbering excitedly all at once as they were relieved no one's mother was going to have to find out they'd gotten into something they shouldn't have.


Johnny placed the brush up high on a shelf, again thinking how the group of kids sounded like a bunch of little birds, only now happily chirping. After sending them out to the backyard with the older sister, Roy and Johnny headed for the squad, wondering how they were going to write this one up in the log book.




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