By Audrey W.
Roy DeSoto glanced at his partner, John Gage, as the younger man went about getting changed for duty.
“So did you and Chet hit the town last night to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?”
Johnny glanced up from tucking his shirt into his trousers. “Yeah. . .yeah we did,” came a wry reply.
“You sound disappointed.”
Johnny snorted. “You could say that.” He leaned down to put on his shoes. “Man, if I ever see another glass of green beer, I swear. . .I’ll. . .I’ll. . .” he waved his right hand as he searched for a word. “Well, I hope I never see one. The flavor may be the same, but it’s just too. . .well. . .green.”
Roy grinned. He figured in other words, his partner had put up with Chet Kelly’s obsession with drinking the green beer on the holiday; but had struck out with the girls, making it all for naught.
“I guess this is the last year you join in on the Kelly tradition?”
“I wouldn’t say ‘last’. . .it didn’t turn out all bad. . . I don’t think.”
The senior paramedic raised his eyebrows in curiosity.
Johnny stood up straight and closed his locker. He saw the unspoken question on his partner’s face. Although there was no one else in the room, Gage looked around, Roy following suit. Johnny ignored the other man following his gaze and whispered, “I think I met someone on the way home.”
“You think? Just how much did you have to drink, anyway?”
“No, no, no. . .it’s not that. It wasn’t the alcohol.” He shook his head. “Man, you know I don’t drive drunk.”
“Well, I know, but when you said--”
“I was perfectly sober,” Johnny interrupted. “But on my way home after leaving the bar, I turned down a side street for a short cut and there she was. . .”
“Who? Just the most beautiful chick I’ve ever seen. She’d gotten a flat and couldn’t change the tire. There wasn’t much traffic on the street and no one else would stop, so I did my duty. . .I fixed her flat.”
“And you’re not sure you met someone because. . .she’s not interested?”
“Oh, she’s interested alright,” Johnny said with a chuckle. “She interested. I just. . .well. . .after we talked and I left, I got to thinkin’.”
“You know how a chick can look one way in certain lighting and another when it changes?”
“Yeah. . .”
“Well, the lighting on the street was really bad. I mean, I had to squint to see what I was doing with the tire, it was so bad. A couple of street lights were out, but what little light there was just made her look. . .beautiful. It highlighted her features just perfectly.”
“She’s probably very pretty.”
“I don’ know, Roy. I mean. . .why didn’t anyone else stop before I did?”
Roy shrugged. “Maybe they just aren’t good Samaritans like you are.”
Johnny furrowed his brow in thought while DeSoto continued on. “Besides, you’ll find out when you see her again. . .you are going to see her, right?”
Gage nodded. “Oh, I’m gonna see her again, alright. Right here.” He pointed at the floor. When he noticed another curious look from his partner, he explained, “I told her I was a paramedic and when she found out, she said wanted to see the station. I promised her a tour today after she gets off work.”
“Well, you’ll sure know what she looks like after that,” Roy said with a smile, thinking he’d just pointed out the obvious solution.
Johnny frowned. “Yeah. And so will the rest of the crew. . .chances are, at the same time I find out.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Man, why did I have to invite her here first? What was I thinking? What if she’s a--”
Captain Stanley stuck his head into the locker room, interrupting the conversation. “You two care to join us for roll call?”
“Sure,” Roy quickly answered. “Sorry, Cap, Johnny was just--”
The expression on Gage’s face told him he needed to let it drop. “Never mind, be right there.”
“One minute,” Hank warned.
Johnny took a quick glance at Roy, who had one more shoe to tie, then followed behind Stanley. DeSoto put a foot on the bench and reached for his laces. I’m sure glad I’m married.
After roll call, Johnny approached the captain while the others went about their morning routines and chores.
“Uh. . .Cap?”
“Uh. . .I need to let you know. . . I . . .uh. . .kind of arranged. . .well, actually I invited. . .actually I didn’t invite her--”
Captain Stanley sighed. His youngest crew member apparently had a girlfriend dilemma once again. “One of your girlfriends invited herself over here,” he supplied.
Gage nodded. “I told her I was a paramedic and she just got all excited and wanted to see what a fire station looks like inside.”
“After she gets off work. About 5:30, I think.”
Hank looked at his watch as he answered. “Well, if we’re not out on a run, she’s more than welcome to stop by.”
Johnny tried to smile, but he wasn’t sure if he was hoping in a way that the captain would say no and get him off the hook. “Are ya sure, Cap?”
“Sure. No problem. But if we get a call while she’s here, she’s to leave when we do.”
Johnny watched as Hank headed for his office. He then walked to the other side of the squad to help Roy check the supplies in the squad.
“Don’t look so sad,” Roy said, when he saw his frowning partner approaching. “At least you’ve got a girl. Which is more than Chet can say right now.”
“You just don’t get it, do you?”
“Roy, it’s. . .” Johnny sighed. “Ah, never mind.” He picked up the biophone and set it on the hood of the squad. Before continuing on with the calibration check, the paramedic rested his right forearm on the vehicle and looked forward in thought. “Man, if just one other person would’ve even tried to stop and help her, I’d feel a lot better about this.”
“What’s her name?”
Johnny looked down at his partner. “Eileen.”
“Oh.” Roy had hoped that the woman would have a beautiful name, which would help him reassure Gage that all was okay. But Eileen was also the name of his sister-in-law. And although she was very attractive and sweet as far as in-laws went, she was still his sister-in-law and somehow it just wouldn’t be easy to rave on about what a wonderful person this other Eileen must be because of her name. So much for that idea. . .
Even harder. Sounds like she should have curlers in her hair. I don’t dare tell *him* that.
Johnny contacted Rampart and completed the calibration test for the biophone. As the paramedics put their supplies away, Gage paused and turned to DeSoto. “You know what? I’m not even gonna worry about it anymore. What’s done is done and I’m just gonna have to deal with it.”
“That’s a good attitude.”
“And you don’t mean a word of it, do you?”
“Probably not,” Johnny admitted matter-of-fact. “C’mon. The dayroom isn’t gonna clean itself.”
Roy sighed as he watched the younger man’s retreating back. He shut the compartment doors on the squad and followed behind the dark-haired paramedic. I’m sooo glad I’m married.
After a day of ups and downs in Johnny’s emotions while not on a call, Roy couldn’t wait for Eileen to arrive at the station and end any doubts his partner had. Having just gotten back from a rescue, the senior paramedic listened as Chet greeted Johnny on the other side of the squad.
“So, twenty minutes till the arrival of Eileen, huh?”
“Yes, Chet,” came a tired reply. Each time John and Roy had returned from a call and Chet was around, the Irishman would let his shiftmate know how long till the tour for Miss Farkus.
“So, tell me again. . .how you meet her?”
“Her Porsche had a flat. I stopped to fix it.”
“She drives a Porsche? Man, she must be a hot chick!”
Johnny sighed. “Chet, Roy drives a Porsche.”
“Oh yeah. . .good point.”
Roy opened his mouth to protest, then decided to just leave the two single men alone. Single. Hey, at least I *am* married.
Roy was busy fixing dinner while Johnny paced around the dayroom, the others watching from their seats at the table.
“Would you relax, Johnny?” Marco asked. “You’re going to wear a hole in the floor.”
“I think he already has,” Mike joked.
Hank Stanley stuck his head into the room. “John, there’s someone here to see you.”
After a quick glance at the others, Johnny started for the doorway. As he reached the captain, he asked, “So whataya think of her?”
“She’s a very pretty lady. I can see why you wanted to give her the tour.”
At that comment, Gage smiled and followed his captain into the apparatus bay. Except for Roy, who was still busy with dinner preparations, the others tried to watch from the entrance to the dayroom.
Johnny’s mouth dropped open when he saw Eileen standing between the squad and the engine, looking at the ‘51’ on the larger vehicle’s door. Not only was she incredibly beautiful with her waist long golden brown ringlets of hair, but her figure resembled that of a Barbie doll. Definitely more breast than bottom, Johnny noticed. And slender legs that went on for ever. . .all well exposed with the light blue mini skirt she had on. Saint Patrick’s Day had indeed been very lucky for John Gage. He smiled as he approached the beauty.
“Hi,” he managed to get out. After that, he was lost for words.
Eileen smiled. “Hi.” She eyed him up and down.
Johnny shifted nervously on his feet, then shrugged, “Uh. . .where do you want to start?”
“How about you decide . . .just lead the way and I’m there.”
“Sure,” he squeaked out. “Sure.”
Still peeking out of the doorway, the three firemen gaped in shock when Johnny and his date came into view as they headed for the rear of the apparatus bay.
“Why didn’t I take that street home last night?” Chet mumbled.
“Because you live in the other direction,” Mike answered.
Marco shook his head. “How does he do it?”
They all quickly ducked back into the room when Gage and his girl turned to glance back at the engine and squad.
When he was done showing Eileen most of the station, Johnny took her into the dayroom where Chet, Marco and Mike were trying to look busy, suddenly very helpful in setting the table for dinner.
Captain Stanley came in behind the dark-haired paramedic and Eileen just as Johnny was introducing her.
“Well, since it looks like we might actually be here for the whole meal, would you like to join us?” Hank asked her.
Roy set the main course on the table. “Do you like pizza? It’s my wife’s recipe. Has just about anything you could think of on it.”
“And I made the salad,” Marco put in.
Johnny shrugged. “How about it?”
“Sure. But since I’m going to be here a little bit longer, can I use the restroom?”
Chet, Mike and Marco were all ready to show her where it was when Johnny shook his head. “Guys, I just gave her a tour of the place. She knows where it’s at.”
Eileen smiled. “I’ll be right back.”
Even Roy couldn’t help but watch the Barbie-like woman exit the room. It’s a good thing that street was as dark as it was, or Johnny would’ve never gotten the tire changed.
Chet grabbed Gage by the upper right arm and pulled him aside. “Man, I can’t believe you fell into this one. You didn’t even have to do anything.”
“Hey, I changed a tire.”
“Yeah. . . but for that? I’d change four tires. Why you?”
Johnny grinned. “The luck of the Irish, Chester B. The luck of the Irish was with me.”
“You aren’t even Irish! I am!”
“Yeah, you do look a little green. . .”
“Gage. . .”
“Look, if it makes you feel better, I keep waiting for something bad to come up.”
“Are you serious? That chick is perfection.”
“That’s what scares me, Chet. She’s too perfect. If you really think about it, this never happens to me without something going wrong.”
“Well, if this one goes sour for you, let me know. I’ll be there to pick up the pieces.”
“Chet, I didn’t think you cared that much,” Johnny mocked.
“Not your pieces. . .hers.”
Both men shut up as Eileen made her way back to the room. The crew and their guest sat down to dinner.
“So do you have any kids, Eileen?” Chet asked. Johnny looked across the table at the fireman, his eyes open wide. Memories of another pretty woman he’d dated named Valerie crossed Johnny’s mind. The blonde gal had kept the news she had three bratty kids from him until after they’d gotten engaged. The paramedic waited for a reply he wasn’t sure he was ready to hear.
“No,” she answered as she went about taking the toppings off her slice of pizza. “I’ve never been married.”
Sighing in relief, Johnny caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. When he glanced at her plate, he noticed Eileen had all of the black olives and sausage pieces already off the pizza and grouped by item on her plate. She must be tryin’ to be polite for Roy and didn’t say she disliked some of the toppings, he thought to himself. But then he noticed she took off the pepperoni slices and grouped them separately between the olives and sausage.
Chet, Mike, Marco and Captain Stanley couldn’t help but notice Eileen picking her toppings off and placing them in order around the plate; alphabetical order at that. Mike nudged Roy in the arm and nodded at the lady’s dish. Roy stared, then glanced up at his partner, who was still watching, a baffled expression on his face.
“You should’ve said you just liked plain pizza, Eileen. I would’ve been glad to take some of the toppings off for you,” Roy offered.
Oblivious to the others staring at her, she looked over at DeSoto. “Oh, no. . .that’s not it. I like all of this stuff. You see, when I was in third grade, I was in a spelling bee. I came one word away from being a national champion, and then wouldn’t you know it, I blew it. I lost.”
Chet raised his eyebrows and glanced around at the others. He could see by their puzzled expressions that they were as much in the dark on her point as he was. “And the word you misspelled was pizza?”
“No. Stomach. I put an ‘e’ on the end; one stupid wrong letter. I was so traumatized by the humiliation of the loss, I couldn’t eat for days afterwards. My mother even sent me to a psychiatrist. But it wasn’t till I tried making up my own kind of game that I found a way to enjoy eating again. I alphabetize and eat the food in order. I may never spell every word in the world correctly, but I’ll bet I could out alphabetize anyone at any meal I eat.” She gave a serious look to Chet. “Wanna try sometime?”
The Irishman raised his eyebrows even higher. “No. . .no. Thanks for the . . .uh. . .offer, but no.”
Johnny was still watching as Eileen shrugged and started to place the onion bits just after the olives. “So you really eat it in order too?” he wondered.
“All the time?”
“Well, what if you’re havin’ a hot fudge sundae?”
“I eat it the fudge off first, then have the ice cream.”
“Cut away the frosting--”
“And eat the cake first,” Johnny filled in, nodding.
“What about a peanut and butter jelly sandwich?” Mike asked.
Eileen plopped a slice of mushroom on her plate in front of the olives. She looked up, a blank expression on her face, then a frown.
The men glanced around at one another, not sure what was coming next. It was obvious that Mike had just mentioned something that was impossible to consume in alphabetical order and Eileen looked genuinely upset. She slid her plate toward the center of the table.
“I’m sorry, but I’m not very hungry anymore. I think I’d better go.”
Johnny looked at Mike, who appeared to be feeling like he’d just shot Bambi’s mother. The paramedic then turned his attention to Eileen, escorting her to the front entrance of the station. After he’d seen her get in her car okay, he returned to the dayroom where the others still sat.
“I’m sorry, Johnny.”
“It’s okay, Mike.”
“Are you going to see her again?” Marco asked.
“I don’t think so. She said something about seeing a psychiatrist though.” He sat down at the table and slouched back in his chair. “Man, I can’t believe my luck.”
“Or lack of it.”
“I don’t need help here, Roy.”
Chet got up from his chair and walked around to Johnny. Leaning down, his left hand on Gage’s right shoulder, he remarked, “Looks like you were right about you and beautiful chicks. Even the luck of the Irish couldn’t save ya.”
Johnny picked a pepperoni circle off his slice of pizza and plopped it in his mouth. “Shut up, Chet,” he groaned.
Roy shook his head as he looked one more time at Eileen’s plate that still sat near the center of the table. *I’m* lucky I’m already married.
Thanks to Jill for the beta read and my daughter for picking the toppings off her pizza one evening.
*Click on the picture to send Audrey feedback
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