In Living Color

By Audrey W.  




John Gage stared out the passenger window, lost in thought over rescues from the past few shifts he and his partner Roy DeSoto had pulled. The latter was in the driver’s seat of their squad as the two men headed back to Station 51 after taking a young victim to Rampart General Hospital.


The eleven year old boy had suffered a sprained ankle and fractured forearm when he tripped over a garden hose and fell to the hard surface of a concrete patio while attempting to extinguish a fire that had begun in his family’s back yard. The fire was started accidentally by him after he'd tossed a still-lit cigarette butt out into the grass and left it there.


The fire department was able to get the fire put out before much structural damage was done to the backside of the residence. However the boy would need awhile to mend.  


John frowned as he thought back to the parents’ reactions to the incident.


“Next time make sure you use an ashtray,” the father had said.


The mother emphasized, “Well, at least you aren’t trying drugs.”


The men from Station 51 all had about the same thought in regards to the situation, which was ‘Are you kidding? Your grade school-aged kid smokes and nearly burned down your house!’


Then there’d been the earlier calls over past shifts, which included a thirteen year old boy who’d driven the family station wagon into the fence of a neighborhood home. He’d gotten in to pretend he was driving, only actually took the keys and stuck them in the ignition. His mother’s words of, “I told you to never take it out of park” took the firemen on the scene by surprise. It made them wonder how many youths were allowed to play in family vehicles; without supervision at that!


Another run involved a teenaged girl who was high after smoking a couple of marijuana joints. She too had wrecked a car. But her parents came to the scene just as high as she was. As a result, they were very mellow about the whole thing.


Yet another was for an eighteen year old boy who was shot during a robbery he and a friend attempted. He was fortunate to have taken a bullet through the fatty tissue of his torso and not into any vital organs. At Rampart it became clear why he might’ve been brazen enough to try it, his father saying, “If you’re gonna hold up a place, you better be sure the guy behind the counter isn’t armed” and the mother adding, “There are safer ways to make money.”


Of course, those parents weren’t happy with what their son had done, but their initial responses were padding for any angrier ones they may have later.


How about saying just don’t do it. . .period, Gage had thought.  His partner had echoed those thoughts in comment later.


John turned in his seat as he shifted his gaze to Roy.


“Ya know, I think I’ve got it figured out.”


“Got what figured out?” Roy questioned with a quick glance.


“Why some kids're like they are these days. You know, like the ones we’ve encountered lately.”


“Oh___I thought we already kind of decided that was lack of discipline and not-so-great examples to follow.”


“Well, we did. . .sorta. But I think I figured out why that is. Or those are. . .or whatever.”


Roy gave him another quick glance before returning his attention to the road and traffic ahead.


“So what’s your theory?”






John gave a firm nod with, “Color.”


“I knew I was gonna regret asking,” Roy mumbled.


John leaned forward slightly, still facing his partner. “I don’t mean color literally. Not literally. But think about it. When we were growin’ up, everything was black and white. Right or wrong. Yes or no. But with some of these parents now-a-days, it’s not so this or that. It’s more like. . .” he paused a moment before offering, “Yes and no, this and that.”


“You mean ‘maybe’?”


“No, not quite a ‘maybe’. Close, but not exactly. It’s like they wanna be cool. With it. So they find a way to say ‘don’t do that’ while at the same time they’re saying, ‘but you can do it’. The signals are so crossed, the kids are getting the rights and wrongs confused, mixed up, like colors on an artist’s pallet.”


The senior paramedic gave it more thought. It sure seemed like the boundaries in life were getting a bit muddled for the younger generation. But there was something else that fit Gage’s point even better.


“You know what? I think you’re right. The world was black and white when we were growing up.”


John grinned in victory as he turned and faced forward, believing he’d successfully made his point. “I really think I am, too.”


“You are. Anyone needing proof just has to look at the pictures.”


John snickered at the comment referring to the fact their childhoods through elementary school were definitely recorded in black and white snapshots as opposed to the colored film used since.


It may not have been the point he was trying to get across, but he sure couldn’t argue with Roy’s.







I was looking at a few old family photos and this idea came to mind.



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