In a Pinch
He snuck quietly into the room, tiptoeing up behind the
paramedic. Reaching out with a quick motion, he pinched the other man, then
leapt backward so he would be out of the way when the man turned to glare at
“Ow! What was that for?”
“You’re not wearing green.” His smug expression made him look like an errant schoolboy.
“I’m changing clothes!” Pulling on his pants, the other man continued to glare at him. “Besides the last time someone, other than you, pinched me for not wearing green, I was in elementary school.”
He saw the door to the bay swing open to admit the other paramedic, already dressed for the day. He was surprised to see the other man wearing a green construction-paper shamrock pinned to the uniform shirt. So much for his plan to pinch all the other men before the day was out.
“Roy, will you explain to this guy just how childish it is to go around pinching people?” Pulling on his uniform shirt, the paramedic only glanced at his partner.
“Wouldn’t do any good. We’ve explained it to him the past two years and he still hasn’t gotten it.” Roy shrugged. “What makes you think he would this year?”
“What’s that you’re wearing?” He asked suddenly, breaking in on the paramedic’s exchange. “Does Cap know you’re wearing that?”
“It’s a shamrock, Jennifer made it for me,” the other man replied, looking down at his shirt. “Yes, Cap knows, and he said it was okay.” Unbuttoning a shirt pocket, he pulled out another shamrock. “Here’s yours, Johnny.” John started to protest but then, seeing his friend’s raised eyebrow, he accepted the proffered shamrock.
“From Jennifer, huh?”
“Tell her I said thanks.” Pinning the shamrock to his shirt, he finished dressing, tucking the tails of his shirt into his pants.
“Hey, what about me?” the other man protested. “Don’t I get one?”
“What’s a’matter, Chet, don’t you have your green socks on?”
“Of course I do!” He wore the same ones every year. Though he could not pinch Roy, there were still three other guys. No one else would be spared, not even Cap. Not even if it meant latrine duty for a month. Hearing Cap calling for them to line up, Chet eagerly pushed open the door to the bay and hurried through. To his chagrin and the other men’s amusement, he saw Cap wearing a shamrock similar to the paramedic’s. His heart sank further when his gaze fell on his fellow engine crewmembers; both men wore shamrocks pinned to their shirts. That’s when he began to suspect things were not going to go well this year.
After roll call, he heard Roy explain to John why Jennifer had made the construction-paper shamrocks.
“She overheard me talking to Jo about Chet and his antics on St. Patrick’s Day, so she came up with her own solution, shamrocks for all of us.”
“A very clever little girl you have there,” John said, grinning when he saw the expression on the Irishman’s face.
“Didn’t she make one for me?” Chet asked, disappointment written large on his face.
“No, she didn’t seem to think you needed one.”
“Oh.” Though this was a set back, he did not let it deter him from the rest of his plans for the day. He watched and waited for one of the men to lose their ‘bit of green.’ But it appeared the shamrocks had a magic of their own. All five stayed firmly in place, looking as fresh as ever by the end of the day, even though the men donned their turnout coats several times.
One thing the men did not find annoying about Chet’s all out celebration of the Irish holiday, was his Irish Stew. He claimed his Irish grandmother had handed down the recipe to him. The men could well believe it; the stew was always excellent. No one ate more of it than the chef himself did.
“Hey, Chet, your movie’s on.” Settling in after supper, the men began to watch television.
“You know who Darby O’Gill reminds me of?” Marco asked the question of no one in particular.
“Who’s that?” John asked.
“Because we’re both Irish?”
“No. Because you’re always trying to get something for nothing and trying to outsmart the other guy.”
“Chet reminds me of the little people,” Roy said, laughing. “Always pulling tricks.”
Through the rest of the movie the men continued to make unfavorable comparisons between Chet and the characters and incidents in the movie. Chet acted as if they were giving him compliments; no way was he going to admit that the comments bugged him.
This had been a singularly unsuccessful day, as far as he was concerned. Thwarted from the beginning by Jennifer’s shamrocks, his day had gone downhill from there. Runs had kept them going most of the day, leaving him no time for much of anything else. With his luck today, he doubted he would even get to watch the whole movie. But it was not until the movie ended that the klaxons sounded, then as if on cue, they rang out.
Well after midnight, the tired firefighters returned to the station. Wearily they cleaned up and fell into bed and to sleep. Chet was last to clean up. Sitting on the couch in the dayroom, staring into space, he waited for his turn.
“Hey, Chet.” The voice had to repeat itself several times before the tired firefighter finally acknowledged it. Looking around he could see no one. When he heard the voice again, he looked around once more. Finally he saw a very small man sitting on the couch next to him. He recognized him as the king of the little people. Blinking his eyes, he rubbed them, wondering if he was seeing things. When he looked again, the man was still there beside him, looking at him expectantly.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I’ve come to speak with you.” The little man’s Irish accent sounded just as it had in the movie.
“About why you let those men talk to you that way.”
“What way is that?”
“You know vera well what way!” Standing on the couch cushion, the little man waved his finger at the dirty firefighter.
“Oh, they were just razzing me. They didn’t mean anything by it.” Though he had found the razzing to be more than a little annoying, he would not admit as much to this man. So, instead he defended his shift-mates.
Continuing to stand on the couch, the man began to lecture the firefighter on letting the other men get the better of him. Chet tried to defend himself, but could not get a word in edgewise. Suddenly, he felt a pinch on his leg. He looked down to see a very small John standing beside him.
“What was that for?” he asked in exasperation.
“You’re not wearing green,” Little John said, accusingly. Reaching over, he pinched him once more.
I am too wearing green. Can’t you see my green socks?” Chet protested, pulling up his pant legs to reveal his socks.
“Green?” Little John looked at the socks in disgust. “Those aren’t green.”
“Yes, they are too green.” He argued with the little man for a few seconds longer. The man who was standing on the couch had not paused in his lecture; he did not even seem to notice anyone else was speaking.
“Hey, what’s the arguing about?” Suddenly another man was on the other side of his legs. The man looked like a tiny Roy.
“He’s not wearing green!” Little John pinched him again. Little Roy, on the other side, pinched him, too.
“Hey stop that,” he yelped. “I am too wearing green.” As the three-way argument and the unabated lecture continued, they were joined by little versions of Marco, Mike and Cap. The latter three joined in the argument and began pinching him, also.
“Stop it. Stop.” Chet began yelling. Suddenly to his horror there were dozens of little people swarming all over him, yelling at him, and pinching him. He tried to swat them off, but just as quickly as he knocked one off, another would appear. In moments they were pinching him from head to foot. The lecture finally stopped, only to be replaced by the wail of a banshee.
“Chet, Chet.” The little people all began chanting his name as the banshee wail continued.
“Chet, wake up!” Suddenly, he recognized Gage’s voice, and realized he was being shaken. “Wake up, man!”
As Chet finally woke, the wailing of the banshee stopped, and the little people disappeared. The only ones left were he and a large-as-life John. Breathing a sigh of relief, he slumped back on the couch.
“What was all the screaming about?” John asked.
“Nothing.” He was not even going to try and explain this one. “Just a nightmare.”
“Well, why don’t you go get washed up and go to bed to have your nightmares?”
He stood to do just that. Suddenly, he felt a pinch on his arm.
“Ow. What was that for?”
“Pay back. Don’t worry, Chet, I’ll always be there for you…in a pinch.” Suiting the action to the word, the paramedic pinched him again, chuckling.
“Very funny.” Grumbling, Chet shuffled through the dayroom door.
Chuckling, John followed after him. Before he left the dayroom he looked back and saw six tiny people sitting in a row on the couch. Grinning, he gave them a thumbs-up sign. Slowly disappearing, the six little men grinned back as they returned the sign.
Thanks for the beta read and suggestions Jane L.
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Stories By Linda2 Saint Patrick's Day Stories