The Gift of Giving
By Audrey W.
Roy DeSoto closed his locker and glanced at his partner John Gage two lockers down. Both men had just finished a twenty-four hour shift at Station 51 and had changed into their civilian clothes.
“So you still going Christmas shopping today?”
“I dunno,” John shrugged. “If I feel like braving the crowds I might, but it’s only December twelfth. I’ve got time.”
“You say that now, Gage,” Chet Kelly said, hiving just come into the locker room. Other than their captain, he was the last of their shift’s engine crew still in the fire station. “But time’ll be gone before ya know it.”
“He’s probably right, you know,” Roy added. “I know you’ve barely made it when you’ve waited till Christmas Eve Day.”
The dark-haired paramedic pondered their comments. They were both right. He was good at putting it off, then realizing there wasn’t much time left nor choices of what to buy when he did do it.
“Yes, I do know. I do know he’s right. And ya know what I’m gonna do about it?”
Both waited, anticipating a sarcastic shoot down.
Gage eyed them both as he cracked a grin. “I’m gonna listen to both of ya and get my Christmas shopping done today.”
The other two exchanged looks of surprise, before Chet stepped over and patted him on the back.
“Now that’s the Christmas spirit.”
Roy wasn’t so sure his partner felt anymore ‘spirited’ about it. But at least he listened to their common sense.
John stuck to his word, and after a shower and quick breakfast at his apartment, went out on his Christmas shopping venture. The stores around town had just recently opened for the day, so there weren’t any big crowds yet. Since it was a weekday, many people had to work, so that helped keep things slower paced as well.
He wandered through a department store that had a hardware section, sale signs hung all over the place.
“Wow, these prices are incredible,” he stated to himself as he picked up a pack of wood working tools. They came with a leather bag to store them in. “I could sure use s new set of these.”
After exploring the rest of the tolls and spotting a few more bargains, he wandered over to the sporting goods section, where more sale sings were hung by the camping gear.
“Are you kiddin me?” He grabbed a sales girl walking past by the arm, stopping her. “Is this really the price for this?” he asked as he pointed toward his new find.
“Yes, sir,” she said with a smile. “You picked a good day to come in. It’s the fist day of our biggest sale of the season.” With that she continued on.
Though he was happy to have found some great deals, he wasn’t so sure that he’d picked the right day for this. There were certainly too many sales to pass up. He’d have to force himself to move on to find the toy department soon so he could get Roy’s son and daughter gifts.
John had to turn sideways going up the outdoor steps to his apartment as he carried the large paper Christmas shopping bags containing all he’d bought. He was sure he’d blown his budget for the next six weeks.
The off duty paramedic struggled to get his key in the door, but somehow managed. He opened it, then squeezed in, one of the bags catching on the doorframe as he did. Once in, he dropped everything on the floor. Now that he had it all home and in the open, it was even more evident he’d gotten carried away.
Gage dug through the bags to pull out the gifts for others. There was a doll for Roy’s little girl Jennifer that would drink water from a bottle then wet her little cotton diaper. He’d gotten her brother Christopher a Hot Wheels loop track. Both were suggestions from Roy when Gage had asked what he should get them.
He pulled a couple of items from another bag, a pretty Christmas pin for his aunt, another for Roy’s wife Joanne and one for Dixie McCall. The latter hadn’t been on his list for gifts, but it was a ‘buy two get one free deal’, so with no girlfriend currently in his life, it only made sense to give the head nurse and friend the extra pin.
Next he held up the box of assorted chocolates he’d bought for his nearby neighbor Laverne. She and her other friends could be a bit of an annoyance at times, but still she was a friend.
John dumped the rest of his treasures on his livingroom floor, then stood back and eyed his shopping spree results. He’d done great, all right.
“For myself. . .”
Other than the few things for the children and ladies, and some very far out things he’d come across at a bargain price that he could use, he’d left out one very important person. Roy.
“How could I do that?”
Sure, he could give Roy the wood working tool kit he’d bought, or the extra durable down stuffed sleeping bag. Even the three roles of 35mm film he’d bought would work in his best friend’s camera, as would the new lens filters he’d gotten. But surely Roy would know who they were originally intended for. None seemed like something John would buy for him.
Gage sighed. He was out of cash now, so when he shopped for DeSoto, he’d have to use his credit card. That time would come on their next day off, which would give him time to figure out what to even get his friend.
The next morning, John greeted his partner at work like any other start of the shift, hoping no one would think about their conversation before they left for their twety-four hours off duty.
“Good mornin’, good mornin’, good mornin’.”
He pulled his locker open as Roy closed his, having gotten there sooner.
“Well, you sure are chipper. Yesterday must’ve gone pretty good for you.”
“Yeah,” he said with a nod. “Yeah, you could say that.”
But Roy’s impending question was cut off by Chet’s voice as he entered the room from the apparatus bay.
“So, Johnny boy, how did your big shopping day go? Did you get everyone on your list taken care of?” He asked as he walked over to his locker across from theirs.
“I said I was gonna, didn’t I?”
Chet stopped suddenly and quickly turned his head to look at the paramedic.
“Uh oh. Who’d ya leave out?”
John forced a snicker as he glanced at his partner, then returned his gaze to Chet when Roy didn’t react.
“I. . .I didn’t leave anyone out. . .maybe I just needed more time to think of what to get ‘um.”
“You bought for yourself, didn’t ya?”
Damn, Chet was too good at reading his facial expressions sometimes. Apparently his guilt was showing through.
“Chet! I didn’t just buy for me.”
Wait a minute, *he* had a little shopping to do himself. . .
“What about you? Did you get all your Christmas shopping done?” The dark-haired paramedic questioned.
“I said I was going to, didn’t I?”
It was at that moment both Chet and John caught the error of his response, in that it matched the latter’s. It was clear what that meant.
“You didn’t get yours done either!” Gage finally grabbed his light blue uniform shirt from his locker as he once again turned his attention to Roy. “How do ya like that. Here he is givin’ me the business when he knew he didn’t get his done all along.”
Roy shook his head and started for the doorway.
“Sounds to me like you both could use a lesson or two in the art of gift shopping.”
John was just glad neither Roy nor Chet thought to ask who he’d accidentally left out for now. Neither one of them would let him forget that for sure.
This was inspired by the characters. :-)
Christmas Stories Stories by Audrey W.