Hang On To Your Seats

By Audrey W.



It was July 6th, and the crew of A-Shift was on duty after a forty-eight hour break, including the July 4th holiday. Johnny and Roy came into the dayroom after returning from an evening rescue and were surprised to see Marco setting up a movie projector on the table. Chet and Mike were sitting in chairs nearby, watching, their eyebrows raised in doubt as Lopez struggled to thread film through the machine.


“What’s this?” Johnny asked, stepping over to the table. Roy was right beside him.


“Marco’s gonna show us home movies,” Chet answered.


“Not home movies, Chet,” Lopez corrected. “I told you my family had a picnic July 4th and we went to see fireworks afterwards. This is the film of the fireworks show.”


“Marco’s gonna show us home movies,” Chet repeated.


Marco shot the fireman a quick glare, then returned his attention to the projector. He frowned as he still couldn’t get the film threaded right.


Roy stepped forward. “I’ll set it up if you want.”


“Roy!” Chet said, shaking his head and making a slicing motion across his own neck signaling for DeSoto to stop.


“Chet, would you cut it out?” Marco knew his shiftmate was teasing, but couldn’t hide the annoyance in his voice.


“Hey, I think it’ll be fun to watch fireworks,” Mike said.


 Johnny agreed as he went to the stove to get himself a cup of coffee. “Did you do the filming, Marco?”


“No, my grandfather, Jose, did.”


Roy stepped away from the table once he had the projector threaded and ready to go. “Where are you gonna show this?” He asked. “It won’t show up good on the walls or chalkboard.”


Marco grinned and pointed to a portable screen in the corner of the room. It was on a tripod stand and would pull out from a cylinder, connecting to a telescoping rod when both were extended.


“Can’t say he isn’t prepared,” Mike commented.


Captain Stanley peeked his head into the dayroom. “What’s everyone--” Seeing the movie projector on the table he cut himself off and stepped inside, his eyebrows raised. “Hey, what’s this?”


“A movie projector, Cap,” Johnny answered, a piece of cookie in his mouth.


“I can SEE that. Why’s it here?”


“Marco’s gonna show us home movies,” Chet offered.


If he hadn’t been so anxious to play the film of the fireworks, Marco would’ve tossed the set up at Kelly.




With chairs pulled away from the table and lined up in a half circle to view Marco’s fireworks film, Mike, Johnny, Roy, Hank and Chet waited as Marco manned the projector. The curtains were closed, lights off, making the room dark enough for viewing.


“Okay, here we go,” Lopez said as he flicked the on switch.


He remained standing and leaned against the counter, his arms folded across his chest. He smiled at the images that filled the screen.


Marco’s relatives appeared on the screen a few at a time. His grandfather had slowly panned the area where they were having the picnic.


“See? Home movies,” Chet whispered to Mike. “Told ya.”


Mike just nodded and kept his eyes on the screen.


“I guess there is some stuff with the family on here,” Marco admitted. “But the fireworks should be on soon.”




Only a full minute into the movie, Marco’s grandfather had picked up speed in his camera movements. When the park scenery suddenly whizzed by on the screen, Johnny, Roy, Mike and Hank all grabbed onto their chair seats for balance. Only Chet seemed unaffected by it.


Latching onto their chairs seemed to help the others, but Johnny was prone to sea sickness and the quick pace of the camera movements gave him that same kind of sickening sensation.  He swallowed hard as he felt the nausea increasing by the second while Jose’ whipped the camera from one family member to the next and back across the picnic area again. But Johnny didn’t want to hurt Marco’s feelings, so he was determined to keep quiet and watch the film.


Roy glanced at his partner. Johnny looked a like he might appear a little green in different lighting. The senior paramedic kept his eyes on the younger man, not only to make sure he was okay, but also to get a break from the wild filming himself.


Chet was enjoying the antics of Marco’s nieces, nephews and cousins as they made faces at the camera, though each was only on screen for a second or two.


Mike glanced at Johnny, wondering how the paramedic was fairing. The engineer was getting a little nauseous himself.


Captain Stanley  clutched the seat of his chair tighter as Marco’s grandfather started walking around while he filmed more of the park’s scenery. A swing set busy with kids, a teeter totter going up and down as children giggled with delight, a small garden bridge, a pavilion with someone else’s family eating, more picnic tables with strangers, and then the Lopez family again. Hank was going to comment on how much fun the kids on the playground seemed to be having, but by the time he got one word out, they were already viewing something else.


“I don’t suppose that projector has a slow motion button on it, does it?”


“Sorry, Cap,” Marco said. “Now I know why Momma said not to give the camera to my grandfather.” He reached out for the table to steady himself.


“It’s not too bad,” Roy lied.


“Yeah, I’d give it a one Dramamine rating,” Mike said, snickering.


Johnny couldn’t take anymore. The paramedic jumped up out of his seat and bolted out of the room, his destination the latrine.


Chet watched as Johnny disappeared from view. “I think Gage would give it a higher Dramamine rating than that.”


“Marco, are you sure the fireworks are on this?” Hank asked. He wondered if he was going to be joining his younger paramedic soon.


“That’s what Momma said. Reel number two.”


“Uh. . .Marco. There was a number one on the film reel,” Roy corrected.


“There was?”


“Yeah, I noticed it when I was threading the machine.”


“Oh.” Marco stopped the projector and walked over to where the light switches were on the wall. He turned them on, then went back over to the table and sure enough. . .there was a number one written on the film reel. “I guess Momma and the others are gathered around right now watching fireworks instead of the family.”


“That’s okay, Marco,” Chet said as he stood up. “That was almost like being on a rollercoaster ride, without having to go to the amusement park and fight the crowd.”


“But what about Johnny?”


“I wouldn’t worry,” Hank said. “Roy can go check on ‘im, but I’m sure he’s okay by now.”


“Well, should we watch the rest of the film?”


Four definite “No”s  filled the room. Marco sighed with relief. He didn’t think he could’ve taken much more either.




Hope you all had a happy July 4th holiday! :o)  Thanks to my husband for the inspiration. Love ya, Chuck! :o) This is dedicated to my grandfather who died in 1983. His filming was quite a ride when watched. :o)  Dramamine is a real drug for motion sickness.




July Fourth Stories