By Audrey W.
“How are you, pal?”
John Gage glanced at Captain Stanley, who was already in bed, as he made his way from the locker room exit and into the dorm room with a slight unease.
“I’m doin’ good, Cap. I’m doin’ good.”
Next, Roy DeSoto watched from his bed as his partner came around the brick divider. Dressed in just their under shorts and white t-shirts, the crew of A-shift was ready to settle in for the night, providing they didn’t get dispatched out before morning.
He didn’t have to say anything. Gage could read his facial expression in the dim lighting.
“Just to make sure, you want me to take another loo--”
“No,” John firmly answered. He’d already displayed his wound enough times, the sarcastic thought of selling tickets had run through his mind.
“Hey, John,” Chet Kelly called out from his bed across the room. “You want me to go get that pillow you’ve been carrying around with ya most of the day?”
“No thanks, Chet. I don’t need it anymore. You can have it if ya want.”
He had to smirk when he heard Chet reply with, “Uh. . .thanks, but I think I’ll pass. . .”
The pillow was one he’d used as a cushion to make it easier to sit anywhere. He’d gotten it at Rampart and left it in the dayroom when they’d all agreed it was time to get some sleep.
It was reminiscent of just over a year before when he’d tried his hand at rodeo riding and roping. . .when he was reminded that he was certainly no longer the horse riding and rodeo type. He’d been sore for about four days afterward then and needed to use a pillow to cushion his behind.
As he crawled into bed, John thought back to what had put him in a rather awkward situation and ended up being quite a pain in his derrière.
* * * * *
The paramedics had stopped at a family-type restaurant to grab some burgers and fries for lunch. It had been a busy mid-morning and they weren’t sure how much of a break they’d be getting. So rather than return to the station for the meal, they’d decided to go to the closest eatery to the neighborhood where they’d just treated a little girl for a minor dog bite.
“Man, I’m starvin’,” John commented as the waitress brought their plates to them at their booth. They’d already been given ice water and cola beverages in glasses while they waited for their food.
Once their food was in front of them, the waitress asked, “Anything else I can get for you?”
“No, we’re good,” John said, with a nod toward Roy. The older man agreed with a smile.
As soon as she left, Roy reached for the ketchup that was on the inside edge of their table while Johnny grabbed the salt for his fries.
Everything was going smoothly, certainly nothing out of the ordinary. But little did they know that soon things would change.
While they were waiting for their tab from the waitress, Johnny got up from the table.
“Be right back.”
“You aren’t trying to get out of paying are you?” Roy teased.
Gage gave a wry grin, then headed for the men’s room.
“Get out of paying,” he mumbled to himself as he made his way past other patrons in booths. “A guy doesn’t have any money handy a few times and he never lives it down. . .”
The only one in the men’s room, Johnny went into one of two stalls to do his business. With the new food in, he needed to empty the old out. Or so it seemed it often worked that way.
He’d no sooner sat on the toilet seat when he felt a quick sharp pinch on his left buttock. The paramedic immediately shot up and spun around.
He jumped back, slamming his bare bottom against the door. The framework of the stalls rattled from the impact.
There in the toilet was a young boa constrictor, its head out of the water and a portion of its body visible from the opening in the bottom of the bowl. How he’d missed it when he sat down Johnny didn’t know. He figured it must’ve come up as he went down, then struck as soon as his skin hit the seat. The odds of them being in the same place at the same time, coming from different directions yet, had to be astronomical.
If I could just win against odds like that with the Irish Sweepstakes!
Except in this case, he couldn’t exactly call it ‘winning’.
He tried to take a quick glance at his behind, first over his right shoulder, then his left. But couldn’t see where he’d been bitten. In fact, like anyone else, he couldn’t see much of his own derrière at all. It still hurt, that was for sure. Of course, smacking it on the door behind him didn’t help matters.
John again eyed the snake. It hadn’t moved much. With a little luck, it wouldn’t. Or maybe it would be better if it came up and out of the toilet, he rethought. It would sure be easier to catch and remove.
He forced himself to remain calm as he assessed his situation. On a lucky note, boa constrictors didn’t have any venom. So he wouldn’t have to be concerned with poisoning. However, he’d never been bitten by a snake before and thus had no idea if he’d have an allergic reaction to one or not.
John also knew that usually snakes had cleaner mouths than animals such as dogs and cats, thus infection was less likely. But on the flipside of that, this snake wasn’t exactly in the most sanitary location. If it came up through the sewer system into the toilet, who knew what all it had come in contact with.
He was brought out of his thoughts then when the door to the bathroom opened. Someone else was coming in. He’d need to tell them to alert the employees and his partner while he kept an eye on the snake.
Johnny turned to unlock the stall door when he remembered his trousers and boxers were still down around his ankles. He quickly bent over and reached for the waistline of both. In one swift motion he had them both up. The need to empty his bowel was forgotten.
While Gage was tied up with his slippery issue, Roy was busy as well. He’d gotten the bill for their meal as soon as Johnny walked away. Figuring it was easier to just pay it and collect Johnny’s share later, Roy took care of it with the cashier, then headed toward the men’s room. He decided he’d wait by the door until Johnny came out. He got one strange look as another man about in his sixties came up to the door.
The blond paramedic gave a wan smile. “Just waiting for my partner,” he said as he motioned toward the door.
The other went on in, not indicating if he approved or not.
“Hey,” John said as he came out of the stall, the waistband of his trousers held closed in his right hand.
The man glanced over his shoulder at the dark-haired paramedic with an annoyed glare. He obviously didn’t appreciate the interruption and invasion of privacy.
“Uh. . .sorry.”
“You must be that other guy’s partner,” he said with his back still facing John.
Gage looked toward the door. What had Roy done? He’d rather know before he admitted anything. Or maybe it was just the fact they were wearing the same uniform. It was kind of hard to deny anything even if Roy had annoyed the guy as well.
The man finished and zipped up his denim jeans, then turned around.
“Okay, what. . .?”
John informed him about the snake, leaving out the part he’d been bitten. As the man went to take a look for himself, Gage continued with, “I need you to go alert someone who works here and have them call animal control while I keep an eye on it.”
“Why can’t you go while I keep my eyes on the thing?”
With an exasperated sigh, Johnny glanced down at his still unfastened pants.
“I can’t exactly go out like this.”
The man assumed he was having trouble getting his pants done up, so he did as John requested. As he reached the door, Gage told him, “Can you tell my partner to come in here, too?”
John was surprised to see Roy peer in as soon as the door opened.
“Roy! Get in here!”
The older man brushed past DeSoto as he entered.
First thing Roy noticed was John’s hand was holding his trousers closed.
“What’s going on?”
“Man, you won’t believe this.”
“Probably not, but try me.”
“There’s a boa constrictor in the toilet!” He motioned for Roy to follow him to take a look.
Well, that explained why his partner was running around with his trousers ready to fall if he were to let go. Apparently he was so thrown off by the snake, he didn’t realize he wasn’t ‘together’ yet.
“Dammit! It’s gone!”
Johnny spun around, and pushed past Roy so that he could look throughout the bathroom. It wasn’t anywhere. The boa constrictor had gone back into the pipes.
“Do you wanna give me the whole story here? I have a feeling I’m missing half of it.”
John noticed Roy’s gaze on his still unzipped and unfastened pants.
“I found it after I sat down. It got me in the rear. It hurts still, but I couldn’t tell how bad the bite was.”
Roy’s eyes widened in both disbelief and alarm.
“We’re chasing a snake around the bathroom and all this time---let me see.”
But before he could, the other man came back with a manager.
“He went back into the pipes,” John informed them. He motioned toward the stall. “But that’s where he was.”
“This could cost me a lot of money if I have to shut the place down. But if he came up through the toilet, he could be from anywhere in the sewage system.” The manager rubbed his chin in thought, a worried expression on his face.
In the meantime, Roy hadn’t forgotten his partner needed to be checked out and likely treated. Johnny hadn’t forgotten either. The pain wouldn’t let him.
Roy grabbed John by the upper left arm and ushered him into the other stall. Much to their surprise, there was the snake peeping up into the toilet bowl, its head once again above the water level.
“I think we have your solution,” Roy said. Normally he would’ve been amazed. Now nothing else about this situation would surprise him.
They traded stalls with the other men. Then Roy had John drop his trousers to his ankles and he was able to just push up the left boxer leg to see the injury. There were a few small spots of blood on the cloth that pinpointed where it was.
“Oh no. . .”
“What?” John asked as he tried to glance over his right shoulder to see what Roy saw.
“It’s broken in half.”
“Oh very funny. Ha ha. You know, you’re a regular Bob Hope.”
Roy ignored the comeback.
“Bend over some. . .”
“You know, Cap wouldn’t be happy with you delaying this.”
“Well, he won’t hafta know, unless someone tells ‘um, right?”
Roy could see the small fang marks in one place on his left buttock near the inside edge, and the two tiny rows of bloody marks from the lower jaw on the inside. It may have been a quick strike, but for a second or two, the snake must’ve had a fairly good hold of him. It didn’t look as though there were any teeth left in the wounds.
“Stay here. I’ll get the biophone and drug box.”
“Can’t we do this somewhere else?”
Roy shot him a look as he left that said, ‘What do you think?’ John knew the answer.
By the time Roy had a doctor at Rampart on the biophone and antiseptic on the bite marks, at least a half dozen male employees and another customer had come into the bathroom. It was good that the latter made it in there. He owned a boa constrictor as a pet by chance and knew just how to handle the snake. He had the four-foot long reptile out and in a bucket container with a lid after just a few minutes. He confirmed it was non-venomous and usually not a threat to humans.
“I know someone who can take this snake in,” the man told the others. “Give it a good home.”
John only hoped his part of the ordeal would have such a happy ending. . .right now his ‘end’ still hurt pretty bad. He frowned as Roy applied gauze bandages on his bottom, though he knew his partner was trying to help him keep a little dignity.
John lay on his stomach on the stretcher for the ambulance ride to the hospital. Though his injury wasn’t life threatening, it was decided he be brought in that way non code R instead of the squad. Brackett figured applying a lot of pressure to the bite could make it worse, depending. He’d rather error in caution than risk causing any complications.
Roy followed the ambulance in the squad. He couldn’t help but grin when he thought about Johnny’s facial expression when he told the ambulance crew he’d be right behind them. He had a feeling that once Johnny was healed, the teasing remarks would come from all directions. Gage likely already knew that, too.
When they got to Rampart, John was taken into Treatment Room Three. Once inside the room, he was assisted from the stretcher to the exam table as he slid over, still on his stomach. John was still wearing his uniform shirt boxer shorts, but Roy had his trousers folded up and tucked in the crook of his right arm. A white sheet was draped across his lower half. Nurse Carol checked his vital signs, verifying they hadn’t changed.
While Carol did her part, Doctor Brackett lifted the sheet and pushed up John’s short leg just enough to see the wounds. There was some slight swelling and a hint of bruising was already evident. But it was clear that Gage was not going to have to worry about an allergic reaction. The time for that had already passed.
“Do we still have the snake?” The doctor asked.
Roy nodded from where he stood a few feet behind the nurse. “We lucked out. There was a guy there who owns and handles them. He got it before it could go back down.”
“I’ll say you were lucky.” The doctor then addressed John. “You had a tetanus shot when you caught your hand on that nail about eight months ago, right?”
The paramedic had been chasing a purse snatcher, when he’d drug his hand over a nail sticking up on a fence as he went over it after the guy.
“Yeah, back when Ed Marlow was in training.”
“Great. That means you won’t need one now.”
That was ‘great’ in Gage’s mind as well. He wasn’t fond of needles.
“He didn’t go as deep as he could have. That’s another thing in your favor.”
“I don’t think he had time, Doc. I was up from that toilet pretty damn quick.”
“I can imagine.” After eyeing the wounds more closely, he added, “I’ll tell you what. I can send you home or release you for duty. It’s going to be up to you. The whole bite isn’t where you’re going to be putting a lot of pressure on it by sitting. You can always cushion it if need be. You will need to keep an eye out for signs of infection, but being where it’s at, I’m thinking you’re better off where someone else can check up on it, at least for the first sixteen to eighteen hours or so. If it’s still looking good by tomorrow morning, you probably won’t have anything to worry about. But you’ll still need to check it periodically after that for a few days just in case.”
John glanced at Roy, who had a concerned expression on his face. He couldn’t ask for anyone more capable to take care of his minor problem for now.
“Yeah, I wanna stay on duty. I’ll be fine, Doc.”
“Okay, you got it, Hose Jockey,” he said with a smile. He then grew more serious. “However__ if you have any indications that something more is developing with this, I want you in here asap. Got it?”
With that settled, John was bandaged back up and sent on his way. However, he didn’t get out of the room before the door opened from the other side and Dixie McCall came in.
“I heard about what happened.” She handed him a small pillow that was in her hands.
He pursed his lips as he accepted it.
“I thought you could probably use it.”
He figured he could as well. It would likely go with him in the squad and the station.
* * * *
Coming out of his thoughts, John sighed and closed his eyes. He’d just be glad when sleep came and the day was officially over. Though the two rescues they’d been on since his little mishap both went fine, the bite not holding him up, it would just be good to be starting a new and hopefully better day.
When morning arrived, Roy was once again pushing John’s boxer leg partway up. The paramedics were in the locker room early in the morning to avoid a time when other firemen assigned to the station may need the room to change their clothes for the new shift or gather their belongings to go home.
Roy carefully removed the gauze bandages and looked for any changes for the worse. There were none. In fact, all the marks appeared to be much improved since the day before.
“It looks like you’re on your way to healing.”
“Good deal, ‘cause I’ve about had it with displayin’ my ‘cheeks.”
After Roy applied more antiseptic and standard bandages this time, as suggested the day before by Brackett, he let go of the material.
“Pretty soon you’ll be as good as new,” Roy commented.
“Heh. . .yeah,” he snorted a laugh. “Good as new. . .”
Except maybe a little wary around *toilets* for awhile. . .he thought. And he’d have to get used to using a handheld mirror to make sure there were no signs of infection the next couple of days.
However, it did look like his ‘end’ of the ordeal was going to be a happy one as well, just as he’d wished. . .
“Literally my end. . .” John mumbled to himself.
This was inspired by my own thoughts. I did research boa bites and how to treat them. But I may not be 100% accurate on it in this story.
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