By Audrey W.
Joanne DeSoto opened the front door and greeted John Gage. The dark-haired paramedic was stopping by to pick up Roy for a bowling contest he promised to join in on.
“C’mon in, Johnny. Roy’ll be out in just a minute. His mother called and he hasn’t been able to get off the phone yet.” She looked towards the kitchen door. “Harriet can really talk a person’s ear off.”
Johnny grinned. He could just imagine his partner trying to end the phone call. Roy would get frustrated when Gage talked too much on their shift. “No problem. I can wait out in my Land Rover if ya want.”
“Oh, don’t be silly,” Joanne said. “Come in and sit down in the livingroom.”
Johnny followed her into the room.
“Sit,” she said, motioning towards the couch, “and I’ll let Roy know you’re here. Maybe Harriet will let him off sooner.”
“Thanks,” Gage said, taking a seat on the right end of the couch. He watched Joanne retreat into the kitchen. Now by himself, Johnny looked around and noticed Jennifer DeSoto, Roy and Joanne’s seven-year-old daughter, coming down from upstairs. She had a large shoebox in her hands.
“Whatcha’ got, squirt?”
“Like what kind of stuff?”
Jennifer carried the box over to the paramedic and handed it to him. Johnny glanced at the little girl’s face, then lifted the lid. Inside were four paper dolls with stands on their feet, a few folded papers with their clothes still attached and a game of jacks with a small ball.
“Can you pop the clothes offa the paper?” Jennifer asked shyly. “I keep tearin’ ‘em when I try.”
Johnny looked around to make sure the coast was clear of any observers. When he saw it was, he unfolded one of the papers. “Sure. But just a few, okay? My reputation kinda depends on me not getting caught with paper dolls, ya know?”
The little blonde girl nodded. “Daddy says the same thing,” she giggled.
Joanne opened the kitchen door, ready to let Johnny know Roy would be a bit longer and to offer the younger man something to drink. But instead she stayed in the kitchen and quietly closed the door again as she didn’t want to disturb Johnny and Jennifer before Roy had a chance to see what the two were up to.
Jennifer was standing in front of Gage, paper dolls set up on the coffee table, while he popped out their clothes. He handed one to Jennifer to put on one of her dolls while he went on to the next outfit on the paper.
When Roy was finished with his phone call, he rubbed his sore ear and noticed the big smile on his wife’s face.
“It’s not funny, Jo. She talked so long, my ear hurts.”
“I’m not smiling at that.”
“What’s up?” He asked, still rubbing his ear.
“Your partner is full of surprises, isn’t he?”
“What’d he do?”
Joanne pointed towards the doorway. “He’s in the livingroom waiting for you,” she whispered. “But he’s helping Jennifer dress her paper dolls while he’s waiting.”
“Now, Roy, don’t give him a hard time about it. I think it’s sweet.”
Roy shook his head. “I won’t. I’ve just never seen him do that. But then, it’s not like we have kids and toys around the station.” He stepped over to the door and opened it a crack to peek out. Jennifer had her paper dolls lined up standing on the floor, their clothes on them. Johnny was sitting forward on the couch, jacks in his hands.
Now *that* I can harass him about, Roy thought. He stepped out into the livingroom and grinned. “You taking up jacks now?”
Johnny looked over in surprise. Blushing slightly, he shook his head. “Target practice,” he said.
Roy raised his eyebrows in question.
Jennifer smiled as she scooted back from her dolls. “’kay, go.”
Gage shrugged at Roy as he held one of the jacks in his right hand and threw it, aiming at one of the paper dolls, knocking her over.
“Yay!” the little girl jumped up and clapped her hands. “You getta point!”
DeSoto just shook his head. What would his partner think of next? Little did he know, Jennifer was the one who suggested it.
This story was inspired by my husband and daughter, when he was helping her pop out clothes for her paper dolls (a sweet sight <G>), and I came out of the laundry room and saw his hands full of jacks and Chels had her paper dolls stood up in a line on the floor. He told me the jacks were for target practice and you now know the rest. Johnny and Jennifer immediately came to mind. I know my two were having a good ‘ol time. lol
*Click on the paper dolls to send Audrey feedback