By Audrey W.
“10-4, Rampart. IV with normal saline and monitor closely on the way in.”
John Gage replaced the biophone handset and closed up the orange box while his partner Roy DeSoto reached for the IV bag to follow through on the instructions.
The two paramedics had been sent out on a call for a ‘man down’, which turned out to be a dehydrated Santa in an overstuffed red suit. He’d been standing outside on a warm December day, ringing a bell beside a collection bucket for charity.
“Just be sure you have me back on my feet in time to deliver presents in two weeks,” the Santa said with a wink for the benefit of the children among the onlookers around them.
John glanced at the worried faces of the youngsters and played along.
“Don’t worry, you’ll even be up in time to help the elves finish making the toys if ya want.”
Santa was soon placed in a waiting ambulance and on his way to Rampart, with Roy riding along.
Gage was about to get into the squad to follow when a male teenager grabbed the bucket off its pole and took off in a run, a boy and girl the same age following.
“They took Santa’s money!” Someone yelled.
At the same time, instinct took over for the paramedic. He immediately chased after the thieves as he hollered to the witnesses, “Call the police!”
Roy glanced at his watch as he approached the base station at Rampart for a second time. He’d been in search of his partner, who hadn’t shown up at their usual meeting place yet.
“Have you seen Johnny?” He asked a young familiar nurse when he got to the desk.
She shook her head.
“I’ve only been here about five minutes, but he hasn’t come by.”
“Okay, thanks anyway.”
He chewed his lower lip as he looked around the somewhat busy corridor. Suddenly here came the missing paramedic, around the corner from the entrance.
Roy couldn’t keep a smile off his face as he headed in Gage’s direction, the biophone and drug box in his hands. But the happy expression faded slightly when he noticed the younger man grimace as he walked.
“What happened? Where’ve you been?”
“Roy, you aren’t gonna believe this.”
Gage went on to explain the theft, with the aftermath added on.
“So I’d been chasing after them for about three blocks, was just about caught up. . .in fact I passed the girl,” he added with a grin as he recalled the surprised expression on her face. “Anyway, the kid with the bucket let it fly in a panic. Nailed me right in the ribs, man.”
“Is that why you look like you’re in pain?”
John shook his head.
“Not exactly. When he threw it, the lid came off and the money inside went flyin’. . .everywhere. . .coins on the sidewalk, bills fluttering in the air to the ground. They were mostly small bills but that didn’t stop a rush from people in the vicinity when they saw an opportunity to fill their pockets. Before I knew it, I was plowed into twice, almost knocked clean over,” he said, rubbing at his left side.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Tis the season, ya know.”
Roy gave a nod.
“Did they catch the kids?”
“You bet. The cops were there before they could get much further. Some of the people still there even gave back the money.” He looked toward the treatment rooms. “How’s Santa?”
“Probably better off than you.”
John snorted a laugh. With the way he felt, Roy was probably right.
“So Gage played hero again,” Mike Stoker commented after the engine crew heard what had happened.
John and Roy had made it back to the station just in time for lunch, where the others were already seated around the table. They’d joined them in the dayroom kitchen area for chicken salad sandwiches.
The ‘again’ Stoker referred to was an incident from over a year earlier, when John had chased after a thief who’d just mugged an elderly lady.
“I didn’t play ‘hero’ anything.” The paramedic continued with a shrug, “I just did what anyone else would’ve done.”
“Yeah? And how many people were running with you?” Chet asked.
“Okay, so not what anyone would do. Maybe they would’ve if I wasn’t there. Besides, it all happened so fast, I think most of ‘um were kinda frozen in shock.”
“Well, you’re lucky you didn’t get trampled when that money came out,” Captain Stanley stated.
Roy and John nodded in agreement, then the latter glanced at his partner.
“Speaking of trampled, you think you’re ready to fight the crowds after we’re done here so I can get my Christmas cards?”
“Hey, we made lunch,” Marco chimed in. “We aren’t cleaning up afterward, too.”
John sighed. “We’ll go after we do the dishes.”
“What’s the big deal?” Chet wondered. “Just grab a box of cards on your way home tomorrow morning. The stores are open early.”
“I don’t need a whole box of cards, Chet. I only have a few friends and relatives I give ‘em out to anyway.”
“I can see it now. John spending hours perusing the Christmas card section . . .trying to find just the right one for each person on his list, few may that be.”
Gage rolled his eyes. “Man, would ya cut it out? I’ll bet I’m there a whole five minutes max.”
He screwed up his face at the curly-haired fireman. “What?”
Chet pushed back his chair and got to his feet. “You said ‘Max’. The name’s Chet.” He walked to where he was behind the paramedics’ chairs and leaned over John’s right shoulder. “Just be sure you get it right on my card.”
Gage gave him a playful shove as he said, “Get outta here. . .”
Roy sighed as he returned another Christmas card to the slot it belonged in. He was down the aisle from John, reading various cards to keep himself entertained while the other shopped for his. Gage had selected most of his cards rather quickly, but when it came to one for his aunt, he’d gotten hung up searching for the right one.
Roy was more than ready to go. After all, a guy could only have so much fun with reading random greeting cards. Maybe Johnny was about ready, too. . .he hoped. He decided to take a chance and ask.
“So have you found the right card for your Aunt Ruth yet?”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact I have.”
With four other cards in his hands, he added hers to the small stack, then walked down to where his partner was still standing. He held it out for Roy to take it to look it over. But the senior paramedic held up his hands in front of his chest to indicate it wasn’t necessary.
“That’s okay,” he said with a smile. John was sparkling enough, no need for both of them to be wearing glitterish uniforms. “I’ll take your word for it.”
Gage brushed at his clothes with
a now free hand for a fifth time since his search for the cards began.
“This glitter crap just won’t go away.”
“You don’t have to tell me. I’ve got kids, remember?”
Once out in the sunshine, the glitter on John’s clothing really stood out. It wasn’t lost on either paramedic.
“Man, I’m gonna hafta change my uniform!”
“Oh I don’t know. You look like you’re in a festive spirit is all.”
Gage snorted a laugh. “Festive spirit. Real cute, Roy. Real cute.”
They continued on to the squad with their groceries.
Chet stopped John in mid step as he was headed for the locker room.
“Whoa! Is that sparkles on your clothes?”
The paramedic sighed. “Yes, Chet. It’s sparkles. Any more questions?”
“Just one. What are you trying for? To be the Liberace of the fire department?”
“That was two. And no, I’m not. Now if you’ll let me get changed. . .”
He brushed past the nosey fireman. As he continued on, he heard, “Sure! Wouldn’t want to hold up the Sugar Plum Fairy of the LA County Fire Department!”
Gage rolled his eyes. Good thing he was done with the Christmas card shopping. He’d already had enough with glitter. . .and Chet’s razzing.
Later in the day and a rescue later, a still clean uniform clad Gage sat down at the table in the dayroom to get his cards ready to mail. He carefully opened up one in front of himself.
He pulled the green pen he always carried on the job from his shirt pocket, then signed the card. When he was done, he once again carefully handled it as he slid it into the envelope it came with, then licked and sealed that.
Proud of himself for getting through the task of the five cards with the glitter residue being on the table instead of his clothes, he pushed back his chair and stood with a satisfied grin on his face. However, when he glanced down, the grin faded.
His hands, shirt and trousers were sparkling with tiny silver specks here and there.
“How. . .?”
“You just can’t stay away from glitter.”
John looked up to see his partner standing in the doorway.
“Ah, man,” John groaned. “This was my only other clean uniform I had in my locker.”
Roy stepped into the room and eyed the other’s clothes.
“I wouldn’t worry about it. Just brush off as much as you can. It won’t be that noticeable.”
“That’s what you said the first time,” Gage reminded, his tone sounding discouraged.
“Don’t look so down. It clashes with the shine, ya know.”
The younger man just scowled as he brushed at the glitter clinging to his clothes. Before he could do much else, the klaxons sounded and the squad was dispatched out on a run.
“Look, will you stop wiping at that stuff?”
Roy immediately shifted his attention from his restless passenger back to the road and traffic ahead. Before adding, “You’re going to get it all over the seat and then we’ll never get rid of it completely.”
“Roy, you heard Chet. I don’t wanna get to the scene glimmering like the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
“No one’s going to notice or even care. You know how it is. They’re just gonna be concerned about the victim and us doing our job.”
He did as the other requested, then folded his arms across his chest with a frustrated huff.
Roy took one more glance Gage’s way and shook his head slightly. He really didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
The rescue involved an injured man, which turned out to be a father who’d taken a tumble down the lower half of a staircase when he missed a step.
As they worked on the victim, the paramedics glanced at the Christmas decorations strewn over the few bottom steps and landing. A wreath, a couple of strings of lights, a two-foot tall plastic Santa, and a star with multiple lights on it to go on top of a newly decorated tree.
“You were carrying all this at once?” Gage asked.
The answer wasn’t a straight yes, but it didn’t need to be.
“I know, no wonder I missed the step, huh?”
“I told him to make two trips. Not to carry everything,” his wife informed them. “But did he listen? Nooo.”
“Look, I would’ve been fine if—oh nevermind. You’re right.”
She pulled back slightly in surprise.
“That’s what I said. Now go do whatever it was you were doing and let these firemen do their job.”
“I’ll be right back.”
John watched her leave into another room, presumably the kitchen. When she was out of sight, he addressed the downed man.
“You probably saved yourself a whole ‘nother kind of pain givin’ in like that.”
Roy grinned, because his bachelor partner was exactly right.
But the father shook his head in apparent disagreement. “I just postponed it. I’ve gotta save all my energy for when her mother comes to stay with us for the next couple of weeks.”
“I can identify with that,” Roy assured him.
The door to the other room opened and the wife came back with two little girls aged six and four years. Both were in flannel Christmas print night gowns, their brown hair in pigtails. The youngsters were each carrying a small plate covered with saran wrap.
“Kids,” the father muttered. “We got them new night gowns and I swear, they’re gonna live in ‘um till next Christmas!”
John smiled at the comment, the image of the two little girls in gowns they’d outgrown but refused to give up in his mind. He updated Rampart on the status of the ambulance. It had just arrived.
“Girls,” the mother directed, “You wait right here while I get the door for the ambulance crew.”
The two nodded, then stood quietly watching while the two uniformed men readied their injured father for transport to the hospital.
“Daddy, are ya gonna be okay?” The older girl finally asked.
He forced a smile despite knowing that he would be down for awhile with a badly sprained ankle, twisted knee and possible hairline fracture of the tibia on the other leg.
“Yes, I’ll be fine after I heal.”
“You shoulda listened to mommy,” the other berated him. “Like we do.”
He just nodded.
“Three against one, huh?” John questioned.
Finally the paramedics had their patient ready for transport. The family followed the entourage outside, then watched as the father was loaded up into the ambulance on the stretcher.
Once the ambulance was on its way with Roy inside as well, John walked toward the squad. But he was stopped at the front end by the girls and their mother.
“Now give the fireman the plates.” She looked at Gage. “One for you and one for your partner.”
“Oh, we really can’t accept gifts.”
“Please? For the children? They helped make them.”
He glanced down at the hopeful expressions on their young faces. The littlest looked ready to cry. How could he say “no” now?
“Okay, I guess bein’ it’s the holiday season an’ all it’d be okay.”
He took the plates, one on top of the other.
Squinting in the bright sunshine, he offered with a crooked smile, “Thanks.”
But that smile disappeared when the sunshine apparently brought something to the girls’ attention.
“Mommy, he’s pretty!” The four year old exclaimed.
“Honey, not now.”
“But he sparkles!” The other daughter added. “Jus’ like the Sugar Plum Fairy!”
The mother gave an apologetic smile as John held his arms out to each side. He looked down at the front of his own uniform. It was on sparkle overload with glitter gleaming in the sun.
Recalling DeSoto’s words, he thought to himself, So much for not being noticed. . .but, man, why did Chet hafta get it right. . .?
“New uniform design for the holiday?” Dixie asked as Gage approached the base station.
He once again found himself glancing downward. The lights in Rampart Hospital really brought out the glitter’s shine, too. The paramedic returned his gaze to her.
“I guess you could say it’s one-of-a-kind custom-made.”
The head nurse smiled.
“It’s very festive.”
“Yeah, so I’ve been told,” he quipped. “But more festive than I wanna be. This glitter is nearly impossible ta get rid of. It’s like it has a life of its own!”
“Have you tried removing it with tape?”
She nodded. “You know, like the wider tape they use on packages for mailing or duct tape. Just press it against the material and peel it off, glitter included,” she shrugged.
His face brightened. “Hey, ya know, that’s a good idea. No. . .a great idea!”
Roy had just joined them at the desk in time to hear the last comment.
“What’s a great idea?”
But his question went ignored.
“I don’t suppose I could get a roll here, could I?”
“Of course. We’ve got some commercial grade stuff it in the supply room. I’ll go get you a roll now.”
She walked out from behind the desk and headed down the corridor.
“Okay, I’ll try again. What’s a great idea?” Roy asked.
“Dix is gonna get me some tape to get this glitter off my uniform. Just stick and peel, off comes the glitter.”
“She noticed, too, huh?”
Gage gave one firm nod as he folded his arms across his chest. “She noticed. She and a few other people.”
“So how are you going to get it off your arms?”
The younger man unfolded his arms and held them out. They had even more glitter on them from being up against his clothes again.
“Ah man! This stuff really does have a life of its own,” he groaned.
Gage held up the large brand new roll of tape Dixie had given him. Seated in the passenger side of the squad again while they headed back to the station, he glanced at his partner.
“Ya know, Dixie really saved the day.”
“Well, let’s hope so. You haven’t tried it yet.”
“Roy, how could it not work?”
“I don’t know. But you know Murphy’s Law. I’m sure there’s probably a way.”
John opened his mouth to comment, but instead just looked out the passenger window, his words held back.
If I try to dispute that, something probably is going to go wrong, he figured.
“Man, this is goin’ great! I told ya it would work, Roy.”
DeSoto eyed the balled up strips of tape on the kitchen area table that his partner had already used to remove glitter from his clothing. It really was working like a charm.
“Good. I won’t have to listen to you complain anymore.”
“You’d complain, too, if some little girl said you looked like the Sugar Plum Fairy.”
“Some little girl?” Chet questioned as he came through the doorway into the dayroom from the apparatus bay. “Who’re you callin’ a ‘little girl’?” He looked at Roy, who was standing beside Gage, still near the table. “Can you believe that? He’s been sporting glitter and I’m--”
“Chet, I was talking about a little girl on our last rescue. She called me that, too. The girl did.”
The curly haired fireman chuckled at the thought. “Now that’s funny.”
“You would say that. Anyway, I won’t be lookin’ that way for long. Dix gave me an idea and some tape to accomplish it.”
“Ah. . .” Chet picked up the roll after John had cut another strip off of it, having wadded up the latest one from his trousers.
“Hey!” The dark haired paramedic put the piece of tape between his teeth and grabbed for his extra supply with both hands. As he yanked it from his shiftmate’s grasp, he managed a clinched-teethed, “Give me that!”
Chet eyed his suddenly empty hands.
“Relax, Johnny boy. . .I was gonna give it right back.” He addressed Roy. “He may sparkle on the outside, but inside?” He shook his head ‘no’.
Roy grinned as his partner closed his mouth tight in an effort to avoid displaying his annoyance.
“Well, I’ve got better things to do than watch you de-glitter.”
With that, Chet left the room the way he’d come in.
John opened his mouth, his teeth unclenched. He grabbed the strip of tape that was now stuck just inside and to his lower lip. Suddenly he gasped and winced in agony, then shook his right hand in an effort to get the tape free from his grasp as his hand went up to his lower lip.
“Murphy’s Law, it’s Murphy’s Law. . .,” he groaned, his tapeless hand on his mouth.
“Wha. . .?”
“My lip! The tape got stuck to it. It felt like it ripped some skin right off!”
“Let me see.”
Gage moved his hand and opened his mouth for Roy to look.
“That’s some strong tape. You were right. You’re missing little patches of skin in three places just inside the edge of your lip.”
“Oh man, are you kiddin’ me?”
“Well, look at the bright side.”
John eyed him warily, his right hand back on his lip.
“This better not be another glitter joke.”
“No. I was just going to point out that at least the patches are inside your mouth so no one else has to know. The outside looks okay.”
“That’s just great. Just great. But somethin’ tells me that’s not gonna be bright enough.”
He momentarily delayed the glitter removal and grabbed a napkin from a holder on the counter. After wetting it with cool water from the kitchen faucet, he held it over the sore spots in his mouth, a frown still on his face.
“What’s the matter?” Captain Stanley asked when his youngest crew member seemed to have lost his appetite for dinner.
The menu consisted of chili and salt crackers, which the former was still in a nearly untouched bowl in front of Gage.
“Nothin’, Cap. I’m just not hungry, I guess.”
“Ah c’mon,” Chet prodded. “Marco and I even volunteered to take on cooking for you guys again, the least you could do is act like you appreciate it. Heck, we even made it just like everyone likes it. . .with some spicy zing!”.”
“It’s. . .it’s got zing, alright.”
That zing may have added flavor, but it was also making the chili sting that much more in his mouth with the tender sore spots.
John was still trying to keep it just between he and Roy that he’d injured the inside of his lower lip and how. But he knew there was no way he was going to make it through an entire bowl of the specially made food and it not be obvious it hurt to eat it. However, he’d hoped everyone else would buy that he just wasn’t very hungry. Unfortunately, it appeared they knew him all too well.
“You never pass up chili,” Mike reminded him.
“He’s right,” the captain agreed. He glanced at the dark haired paramedic. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine, Cap.” He looked at his partner seated beside him. “Right, Roy?”
“Sometimes I wonder,” the other quipped in a hushed tone. He then supported, “He told me he wasn’t very hungry before we sat down to eat.” With a shrug, he finished, “I guess he was right.”
John rolled his eyes. That was what Roy considered backing him up? He figured his partner could’ve made it sound a little more convincing.
“I guess I could eat some.”
Chet grinned. “Of course ya can. Once you really get started, you won’t be able to stop till the last spoonful.”
“Besides, who ever heard of a fireman who wasn’t hungry?”
Mike’s comment got four nods, including one from Roy.
Gage took a quick sip of milk, then dug in, albeit slower than usual.
As soon as John and Roy were done cleaning up the dishes after dinner, the station was dispatched out on a structure fire call. An hour and a half later, the engine crew was involved with the clean up at the scene while the paramedics had gone to Rampart with an injured fire fighter from another company.
Having ridden in with the victim, John stood leaning against a wall in the treatment room and watched as Doctor Morton examined the patient.
“Doc, you need me for anything?” The paramedic wondered after a short while.
“No, go ahead. We’ve got it.” He motioned toward Carol, the nurse on duty assisting him.
John pushed off the wall with his back, then stepped over to the fireman still lying down on the exam table.
“Take it easy, Fleming. We’ll check on ya next time we’re in.”
“Sure. . .thanks.”
Gage gave a brief wave before leaving the room and heading off to find his partner, their biophone and oxygen equipment in hand.
As John met up with Roy in the nurses’ lounge, Dixie was just leaving. She eyed the dark-haired new arrival up and down.
“Well, Roy was right. That tape did the trick with the glitter.”
“Yeah. I hope that’s all he told ya it did.” He glanced at the other, who looked surprised he even brought anything more up.
“Why? Did you wrap a couple of packages for mailing in the meantime?”
“I thought about taping Chet to his chair,” he lied in an attempt to steer the conversation off what he’d started. “Ya know, that is really some strong stuff.”
“It sure is. Well, I’ve got to get back to work. I’ll see you guys later.”
“See ya, Dix,” John added. “And thanks again.”
“Glad to help.”
Once she was gone, the younger man walked over to Roy, who was just getting up from the round table, a coffee cup in his hand.
“Man, that was close.”
“You nearly torpedoed your own ship.”
“Tell me about it.”
“You want to get out of here before you say too much again?”
He handed the oxygen equipment to Roy, who’d put the cup in a sink. The paramedics headed out toward their squad, Gage still relieved he’d not given away his little accident with the industrial strength tape.
By morning, John’s mouth was already on its way to healing. He was glad that he hadn’t had to deal with anymore spicy foods nonetheless. Nor glittery cards, for that matter. His were already in a mail box he’d passed by soon after leaving the station.
He now was headed home for a couple of days before having to pull another twenty-four hours on duty. Dressed in his civilian clothes, he glanced at the two uniforms roughly folded up on the passenger seat of his Land Rover.
The dry cleaners should be open. Maybe I’ll just drop ‘um off this morning.
Gage was greeted with the smile of the pretty young lady behind the counter at the cleaners.
“Good morning, Mr. Gage.”
He laid out his two dirty uniforms on the counter.
“One isn’t nearly as bad as the other, but they’ve both got glitter on ‘um. Think you can get it all off?”
“Sure! No doubt.” But as she wrote out a ticket, she added, “You sure you want that? Seems like a ‘flashy’ fireman at the holidays might be far out.”
“I’m sure. It’s not my kinda style, ya know? But would you be interested in a fireman with a flashy smile?”
He displayed a wide lopsided grin as he waited for her to look up and give a response in their little teasing conversation.
“Maybe if I didn’t already have a boyfriend,” she said with a wink. She handed him a copy of the dry-cleaning order. “You can pick these up tomorrow after two o’clock.”
He glanced at the paper. “Good deal. See you then.”
Gage headed out to his white Land Rover.
Two days later, the crew of Station 51’s A-Shift was back on duty, all with clean uniforms. Gage had enjoyed his days off glitter free and intended to keep himself that way throughout the time on duty.
He and Roy inventoried the squad, did a calibration check of the biophone with Rampart’s help, then changed the sheets on their beds.
Once that was all done, they found themselves with some free time to do what they wanted. With a small brown paper lunch bag in his right hand, Roy motioned for John to follow him.
“Joanne had me bring a couple of ornaments the kids made for the tree in the dayroom. You wanna have the honor of putting one up?”
Gage shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
The two went to where the already sparsely decorated tree was in one corner of their breakroom, at the opposite end than the kitchen area.
Roy reached into the sack and pulled out one star shaped piece of cardboard, shaking it off as he did.
At the same instance John jumped back with a “Hey!”
He looked in disgust at the sudden shower of glitter that had come off the star, while Roy couldn’t help but display amusement. He’d accidentally sparkled up part of his partner’s uniform again, including his shoes quite a bit.
“Man, look what ya did!”
“Uh. . .sorry about that.”
“Yeah, sure ya are,” Gage shot back wryly.
Roy shrugged. “I really am. Do you still have that tape Dix gave you here?”
“Tape? I’ve still got another clean uniform.”
He started for the doorway leading to the apparatus bay when his partner called out, “Hey, what about the ornaments?”
“Go right ahead and put ‘um up!” He called over his shoulder. “I’m good with that, trust me!”
Roy couldn’t help but grin slightly. He knew Johnny would get over the little mishap soon if he hadn’t already, but it sounded like he had.
He very carefully hung up his daughter’s star so as not to shake off more glitter, then pulled out another his son had done. It hadn’t started out as glittery, but after being in the bag with Jennifer’s it sure was now.
Johnny’s right. This stuff has a life of its own.
Roy glanced down at his own trousers and shoes. Johnny might not want to use it, but he was going to need to put that industrial strength tape to use himself.
The paramedics’ first rescue of the day was at a toy store. A young brother and sister left alone to wander and entertain themselves while their mother shopped had managed to get into a predicament. Or at least the little six year old boy had. His younger sister was still crying at the thought of possibly being in trouble, too.
As the paramedics arrived at the scene of the mishap, the mother shook her head at the thought of commotion her son was causing. All because he had to climb up onto the roof of a gingerbread cottage Christmas display the size of a small shed and try to go down the chimney.
The brown house was actually constructed of wood and covered to look like a cookie surface. It had painted on white shutters, along with fake icing and gumdrop trim. The chimney on top didn’t actually lead to the inside, but rather was a square wooden box firmly attached to the slanted roof on one side. It was just a big enough opening to make Larry think he could fit and make himself go through the roof if he jumped in with his imaginary super hero force. Unfortunately, that only made him fit snuggly within the chimney and stay put. Even one of the employees who’d climbed up on the roof couldn’t pull the boy free.
On the top step of a tall step ladder beside the house, John leaned over to reach Larry and assess just how stuck he was.
“He’s not goin’ anywhere,” he said to his partner.
“Can we cut him out?”
Gage shook his head. “I --.”
Before he could get his reply out, Larry had apparently been motivated or found his ‘super strength’ at the mention of ‘cut’. Because the boy suddenly pushed himself free and was standing on the roof, ready to come down.
The store manger looked on in disbelief. “Is that all we had to do and we could’ve avoided all this drama? If I’d known that, we would’ve never called you guys. Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay. That’s what we’re here for,” Roy assured. He was a bit amazed himself that words alone would get the kid free.
As John helped the youth down, he heard another manager ask, “Why shop with kids anyway? Why not just let them pick out what they want?”
The mother eyed him in alarm. “Because the presenta-ay are in the trunk-ay…I paid for them and took then out to the car while Larry and Susy were playing.”
“That’ll be the next place he gets stuck,” the first manager commented. “But at least you’ll know who to call.” He looked at John and Roy, who weren’t sure what to say.
The scowl on the mother’s face made it obvious she didn’t appreciate the comment at all.
Gage and DeSoto were on their way to the squad, just a few yards outside of the automatic front doors of the store, when a little six year old girl came running out. Her mother could be heard yelling for her to slow down from behind.
John looked in disbelief at the glitter cloud he and Roy were suddenly in as the child ignored her mom and ran past them, an open bottle in each hand; gold glitter in one, silver in the other. The girl had waved them in the air all around her during her free reign. A slight breeze helped to carry the glitter flurry through the air beyond her vacinity.
“Ah man!” Gage groaned. He leaned over and shook his head side-to-side. Glitter fluttered from his hair.
“I was afraid of that.”
Roy just wondered how they’d ever be glitter-free again. They were both sparkling from head to toe here and there. Even industrial tape wouldn’t take care of it all.
Then he got an idea. There was a vacuum store in the strip mall. Maybe if they could get a demonstration. . .
“Man, I gotta hand it to ya, Roy. That was a brilliant idea. Brilliant!”
“I hope Joanne agrees with you.”
John looked at the box in Roy’s right hand. “I’ll bet she loves her present!”
While the senior paramedic’s suggestion they ask for a demonstration with a vacuum cleaner, and the proof of the product be removing the glitter from their uniforms had worked, he’d also gotten something he hadn’t counted on. Feeling a bit guilty for using the salesman’s time to solve their problem, he’d been talked into purchasing a new item on the market. A hand held cordless mini vacuum that every woman ‘would appreciate’ having around the house for small cleanups; especially one with small children.
“At least without a cord, she can’t strangle me with it,” he quipped.
“You know, I blame you for this,” DeSoto stated as they reached the squad.
“Me?” John questioned, his right hand splayed on his chest. “I’m not the one who said ‘I’ll take it’. I’m not the one who pulled out my wallet and handed the man money. ”
“No, but you are the one who started this whole glitter thing that led us to this point.”
The younger man opened his mouth to protest, but stopped without making a sound. Roy wasn’t entirely wrong.
Two days after the latest sparkly episode, the crew of A-shift had returned for duty.
“Can ya try not to get sprinkled on?” Chet wondered. “I keep finding little particles of it all over the station.”
“I’m countin’ on it,” Gage shot back.
Surely they’d had their fair share dealing with the stuff, though he unknowingly still had a hint of it on the seat of his trousers from residual still hanging out in the driver’s seat of his Land Rover.
A few hours into the shift, while returning to the station after leaving a patient at Rampart, the paramedics were traveling along the 405 Freeway when a large box-style van up ahead several car lengths swerved recklessly into another lane, nearly clipping a car.
“Roy, did you see that?”
As soon as the two witnessed another close call, John grabbed the mic and reported the careless driver so dispatch could notify the highway patrol.
After two more sudden jerky swerves, the truck was finally in the far right lane.
“He’s pulling over, Roy.”
“And so are we.”
As soon as they were close to the truck, he pulled the squad over behind it and stopped.
The two quickly climbed out of their truck and trotted up to the cab of the other. John got up on the running board and knocked on the window.
“Hey, you okay? Hey!”
The driver didn’t respond.
The paramedic hopped down, pulled the door open and leaned inside to assess the man’s condition. Meanwhile Roy ran back to the squad to report a still alarm and request an ambulance.
Right away John was in a smoky haze that came from the cargo section of the van, the open door drawing it outward. It had a chemical odor to it.
“Man, we gotta get you outta here.”
He leaned outward and hollered to his partner, “Roy, we’ve got a fire startin’ in here! Request an engine and hazmat crew!”
DeSoto had just started away from the squad. He immediately turned and ran a few steps back to it.
“Man,” John panted as he worked to get the driver out of the front of the van and into fresh air. Though he was sure he’d regret it later, with the driver being in immediate danger, he didn’t take time to put on his SCBA gear for his own protection.
Roy came in time to grab the victim’s legs as John pulled him the rest of the way out. They hurried back toward the squad with the unconscious man still between them. Once they were a good distance from the van, they laid their charge partially on the embankment, safe from traffic as well. Gage quickly went to get the equipment they’d need. By the time rejoined the other two, he practically dropped to the ground himself.
His partner eyed him warily as he worked to get oxygen on the victim.
Gage swiped at his brow and blinked hard a couple of times.
“Yeah. I just feel kinda woozy. I’ll be all right.”
Roy gave a nod. “Yeah.” To him that answer meant his partner could be laid out on the ground soon as well. Gage always seemed to downplay his own not-so-good conditions.
While Roy got vitals, the other contacted Rampart. The rest of the emergency vehicles dispatched arrived on scene during the commotion, the police being first.
Engine 51 was the engine sent. The captain had Chet and Marco immediately drag out a hose while police kept traffic diverted safely to lanes furthest from the activity.
Luckily their victim regained consciousness right after the extra help had arrived. Still very much groggy, he weakly explained what happened as best he could.
As it turned out, he had been hauling copper concentrate that began to smolder during the transport. It emitted a toxic gas they’d soon know was hydrogen sulfide.
“It’s a good thing you recognized you were in trouble and stopped when you did,” Roy assured him. “No telling what kind of catastrophe we’d be dealing with right now if you’d passed out while still driving.”
“Yeah, no kiddin’,” John agreed. “You did exactly what you should’ve.”
The captain noted the bleariness still in his younger paramedic’s eyes.
“You okay, Pal?”
Before he could answer, Roy did it for him.
“He breathed in some of the smoke before we got the driver out.”
“I’m okay, Cap. Just a little woozy.”
“Well, regardless of how ‘okay’ you are, you be sure and get checked out over at Rampart,” Hank ordered.
“He will,” Roy answered for his partner.
John gave him a brief glance before shifting his attention to the victim, who was once again lying with his eyes closed.
Chet and Marco were in the process of cooling the load of chemical with water by the time the ambulance left. John rode in with the patient while Roy followed behind in the squad.
While the truck driver remained at Rampart for a couple of days, Gage was released after being examined by Doctor Early. Since his exposure to the chemical fumes was brief, the effects from it were short lived.
Later in the evening, John and Roy found themselves back at the hospital after transporting a hypochondriac who was sure he was having three major life threatening health issues at once.
“Brackett’s got his hands full with that one,” Gage said with a smirk as he and Roy walked over to the base station. With another nurse assisting the doctor with the patient, their favorite head nurse was behind the desk and available to talk to.
The paramedics both smiled at their close friend.
“Hi, Dix,” John echoed, his words slightly overlapped with Roy’s.
“Well, I see you’ve got that sparkle back in your eyes, Johnny.”
His smile faded and he immediately lifted a hand to just below his right eye, a look of alarm suddenly on his face.
“Don’t worry,” Roy assured, knowing exactly what went through his partner’s mind. “It’s not glitter she’s referring to. You just look like your old self.”
He and Dixie traded amused expressions when they saw Gage’s shoulders sag as he visibly relaxed with relief, his usual crooked grin on display.
John was still finding glitter here and there on his apartment furniture and on the interior of his Land Rover by February. This crap is never gonna go away, he’d surmised in frustration.
Much to Roy’s relief, Joanne liked the vacuum he gave her for Christmas.
Over all, everyone had a very merry Christmas and were enjoying the new year day by day.
I have to thank my husband, and a glittery card that shed on him two years ago, for the inspiration. J Yes, it took me that long to get this one completed for a variety of reasons. J The cordless hand held vac was invented after the time frame this story takes place in, but for story purposes, I moved that date to fit the date in time I am writing for. Some of the story is in exaggeration by design.J
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