By Audrey W.
“So do you think you can do it?’ Roy DeSoto asked his partner John Gage as the two got ready for a new twenty-four hour shift on duty. The paramedics were slated to work Halloween night, but Roy and his wife Joanne were attending a Halloween party on the thirtieth and she’d had him ask Gage to baby-sit their two young children.
“I don’ know, Roy. It’s awful short notice. . .”
“I thought you said you didn’t have any plans.”
“I don’t,” he shrugged. “it’s just that. . .well, I’m not sure I’m ready for a night with two little kids. A single guy needs to have time to psych himself up for somethin’ like that, ya know?”
Roy closed his locker and leaned against it. “There isn’t much to ‘psych’ yourself up for. The party doesn’t start until eight. We’re not leaving till then. Chris and Jennifer go to bed between eight-thirty and nine. So really all’s you need to do is sit and watch some TV for a few hours.”
“Yeah?” Johnny gave it thought while his partner waited for an answer.
“Well? Whataya say? You’ll do it?”
Another shrug was followed by, “Okay. Sure. Why not?”
“Great.” Roy stepped over the bench in front of their lockers and headed for the exit that led to the dorm room. “I’ll call Jo now and let her know.”
Johnny nodded, then stopped him with a, “Hey, just outta curiosity. . .” When he saw he had Roy’s attention, he continued. “How come your regular baby-sitter can’t do it?”
“It’s a school night. She can’t stay up past ten.”
“Oh.” That answer gave him added confidence. After all, if a school-aged girl could handle two little kids. . .
“Okay, bedtime,” Johnny said as he got to his feet. He’d been sitting on the livingroom couch watching television while the DeSoto children played nearby. Roy and Joanne had gone dressed in costume to the party and thirty minutes later, it was time to get the two little ones headed in the direction of their bedrooms so they could actually be in bed before 9:00.
“Do we hafta?” five-year-old Christopher asked. Already in flannel pajamas, he and his three-year-old sister Jennifer were each busy with crayons as they worked on pumpkin pictures from a coloring book their mother had taken the pages out of.
“Yep. For one, it’s your bedtime. For two, you’ve got kindergarten tomorrow. You don’t wanna sleep in and miss your first school Halloween party, now do ya?”
Chris shook his head and gathered his and Jennifer’s crayons together in a box while Johnny picked her up and held her near his right side. “You look tired,” he commented. “You ready to get some sleep, sweetheart?”
The little blonde girl nodded as she rubbed at her eyes, then laid her head on his shoulder. When he saw Chris had everything cleaned up, he reached out with a free hand. “Let’s go.”
“I can walk by myself,” Chris insisted.
“Sure! I forgot. You’re a gettin’to be a big boy now.”
“I am a big boy!”
“Oh. Right. My mistake.” He hid his amused smile as the little boy went on to also insist on leading the way.
Once he had Jennifer settled into her bed, Johnny came into Chris’s room where the boy was already under the covers.
“Well, you certainly are a take-charge kinda guy, eh sport?”
But by the confused look on the young face, the phrase wasn’t quite understood. Johnny dismissed it and picked up a stray baseball from the floor. As he tossed it in a toy box at the foot of the bed, he questioned, “So what’re you gonna be for Halloween, Chris?”
“You don’t know? Aren’t ya gonna dress up for the party at school tomorrow?”
“Uh uh. But we’re gonna have cupcakes!”
“Oh. Well, that sounds like a good deal. But you don’t know whatcha wanna be for trick-er-treatin’, huh?”
Johnny rubbed his chin in thought and sat on the edge of the bed before suggesting, “How about a mummy?”
“A boy can’t be a mummy!”
“Boys are daddies!”
“No, not a mommy. . .a mummy.”
He got a headshake in return.
“Don’t like that one, huh?”
Again, a headshake.
“Well, how about a cowboy?”
“Daddy says there’s no such thing!”
“Oh. . .well. . .we’ll leave that one alone then.” After a pause he snapped his fingers. “I know! A werewolf!”
“It’s a man who turns into a wolf kinda, when it’s a full moon outside. . .grows hair all over his face and body, and has teeth kinda like fangs. He bites other people to make them werewolves too. That’s if he doesn’t killem’ first,” he added with a shrug.
He noticed the young boy’s gaze suddenly on the moonlight streaming in through a crack in the curtains. The gaze turned to one of fear.
Johnny forced a laugh. “You don’t think. . .I mean, sure it’s a full__moon. . .uh, right.” He forced another laugh. “Hey, did I mention werewolves live in Transylvania?”
His eyes still wide with fear and bottom lip quivering, Chris slowly shook his head.
“Well, they do! So see? You’re perfectly safe here in Carson.”
“How do you know one din’t fly here on a plane?”
“Werewolves can’t use public transportation. Well, I guess they could before they changed. I mean, no one would know--” he cut himself off in hopes it was before he made things much worse. “Chris, it’s okay. Look, let’s forget this whole conversation happened and you get some sleep.”
The even wider open eyes were enough to tell him that wasn’t going to happen so easily.
So much for being a ‘big boy’.
“How ‘bout if I leave the light on. Can ya get to sleep then?”
The boy shook his head no.
“The wolf guy will know I’m in here.”
Johnny sighed. Roy and Joanne would string him up by his thumbs if they found out what he’d inadvertently started. “Chris, you’re gonna hafta try an’ go to sleep. Now, what’s gonna help?”
The boy shrugged.
The paramedic glanced around the room. He had to think of something. . .
Seven story books later, Johnny sighed again when Chris was as wide-eyed as when he’d started reading, though he did look tired.
“Not helpin’, huh?”
The boy shook his head.
“Man, what’re we gonna do?”
Another shrug was his only reply.
“Well, I guess there’s only one thing to do.” He picked up the books as he stood, then carried them over to a small bookcase near the doorway. He set them down on one of the shelves, immediately gathering a new stack to read.
He didn’t know whether to hope Joanne and Roy got home early or not. Either way it looked like it was going to be a long night for them. . .thanks to him.
Man, why did the baby-sitter hafta have a curfew?
“Mornin’,” Johnny said as his partner wandered into the locker room.
“Are we off yet?”
The younger man shook his head with a yawn. “Just gettin’ started.” He tucked his blue uniform shirt into his trousers.
“Wake me up when it’s over.”
“No luck gettin’ Chris to sleep after I left, huh?”
“Not until I convinced him I’d stay awake and keep an eye out for the werewolf. Before that he was still following me everywhere I went in the house. He even insisted on going in the bathroom with me when I brushed my teeth.”
Johnny sat on the bench in front of the lockers and grabbed one of his shoes. “Man, I’m sorry. I never thought about the fact the kid would take it so seriously, ya know?”
“That’s okay,” Roy assured as he changed his shirt. “If you wanna know the truth, I did it last year. I should’ve said something to you but I figured, what were the odds of it happening again?”
Gage grinned and sighed with relief. “So I guess I can tear my transfer papers up.” The shocked expression on Roy’s face had him quickly explaining, “I’m kiddin’. Relax, I’m just kiddn’.”
“Well, you may want to keep some handy,” he teased. “After all, Jo has the kids by herself tonight. And she’s either gotta take them trick-or-treating – with a full moon, no less. Or deal with scary costumed kids coming to the door for treats while Chris is still hung up about the whole thing and’s practically glued to her side.”
Johnny looked at Roy in alarm. “Oh man!” He hadn’t thought of all that. “You know, this could turn out to be the scariest Halloween I’ve ever had!”
“How do you figure that?”
“Roy, you of all people should know! When it comes to bein' scary, all the witches, ghosts, ghouls and goblins in the world can’t hold a candle to a tired and cranky mother with a little kid on her heels everywhere she goes.”
DeSoto just shook his head, a grin still on his face. Though he knew Joanne wouldn’t do more than gripe at him the next day, he had to agree with his partner. He’d take facing a Halloween villain than a grouchy wife and mother any day.
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