by Marty P.
Roy DeSoto entered the locker room and tossed a paper at Johnny Gage, who was buttoning his work shirt. “What’s this?”
“Can’t you tell? It’s a scorpion.” Roy’s demeanor was resolute.
Johnny studied it. “Yeah, I recognized it but why’d you show it to me?”
“Because,” Roy slid onto the bench, “I have a dilemma.”
“Oh?” Johnny swung around to face his paramedic partner. “What’s going on?”
“I’ll talk about it later,” Roy wandered off toward the kitchen and Johnny examined the picture again. As he headed to the apparatus room, he tossed it into the squad’s cab.
On their way back from the monthly paramedic meeting at Rampart, Johnny spotted the photo again. “So, ya ready to talk now?
“Chris came to me last night and begged for a scorpion for his birthday.” Roy elucidated.
Johnny didn’t say anything immediately. “Really? What does Joanne think?”
“She doesn’t know.” Roy ‘s hands tightened on the steering wheel. “Ever since they studied invertebrates at school, Chris has been fascinated with scorpions. Then last week he visited the zoo.”
“So, what are you gonna do?” Johnny smirked. “Want me to call Joanne for you?”
“I don’t think that’ll be necessary.” Roy replied with sarcasm. “I don’t wanna squelch Chris’ enthusiasm but Joanne’s not gonna be keen on this.”
“When I was a kid I went through a phase where I was obsessed with venomous creatures.”
“No kidding?” Roy’s surprise showed on his face.
Johnny shifted his position and gazed out the window. “Yup, as long as the critter was outside or in a book my aunt was fine with it.”
“Are you still interested?” Roy slowed as they entered a housing area with many children.
Johnny shook his head. “They’re okay but so are dogs.” The station was empty when the squad returned. “Roy, if I remember right some scorpions aren’t dangerous to humans.”
“I guess I better look into it a little more before I talk to Joanne about this.”
It was at lunch the subject came up. “Anybuby know aboud scowpions.” Johnny asked with his mouth full.
Cap Stanley heaved a sigh, “Gage, do you mind?”
“Sorry, Cap,” Johnny drained his milk glass. “Anybody ever own a scorpion?”
“Are you kidding?” Chet blinked at the man and shuddered. “After you’ve seen The Scorpion King you want nothing to do with them.”
“My little brother had one,” Mike contributed.
Roy sat up straighter. “Didn’t it frighten your mom?”
“Naw, she was cool with snakes and bugs.” Mike returned to his tuna salad sandwich.
Roy gnawed on a carrot, “Well, did you have any problems with it?”
“Not really,” Mike cleared his plate from the table.. “He took it out of the aquarium to clean it one day and we never saw it again.” His lips curled upward, “Course we moved not long after that.”
“Cuz of the scorpion?” Marco’s eyebrows rose.
The claxons sounded. Engine 51, assist Station 36, MVA northbound ramp of I-405.
Several days later, Roy and Johnny were checking their equipment at the start of their shift. “I went to the library on my day off, Johnny.”
“What for?” Johnny mentally reran the date he’d the previous night and wasn’t paying attention.
Roy removed the oxygen tank from the squad. “Did you know there are more than twenty species of scorpions?”
“That’s nice,” Johnny attached the cords to the biocom and prepared for a telemetry check with the hospital.
Roy glanced at him, “You with me, Johnny?”
“Hmm, you went bowling, right?”
“Johnny, what are you talking about?”
“Well, you said
something about scoring and pins. Didn’t you?
“S-c-o-r-p-i-o-n-s,” Roy recited slowly.
“You’re really serious about this, aren’t you?” Johnny rocked back on his heels and stared at his partner.
“I stopped by a pet store that specializes in unusual animals.” Roy elaborated. “They recommend the Emperor scorpion.”
“What’s so special about the Emperor scorpion?”
“Well, if they sting a person it’s like getting a bee sting. People can have an anaphylactic reaction but their venom isn’t as toxic as other scorpions.”
Johnny perched on the running board of the rescue truck, “If you get this pet for Chris, how long’s it gonna live?
“Six to eight years.”
“That’s a big commitment. How does Joanne feel about this?” Johnny rubbed a scuff on his shoe.
“Uh, I still have to bring it up with her.” Roy admitted, turning away to retrieve the oxygen canister.
Johnny scooted the biocom closer. “Chris’ birthday’s coming pretty soon, isn’t it?”
On the next shift…
Johnny was cleaning the mirrors in the bathroom when Roy entered. “I just got off the phone with Joanne. We came up with a solution. Chris is getting a scorpion on one condition.”
“That’s great. What’s the condition?” Johnny looked at his friend with interest.
Roy patted him on the shoulder. “Since you’re part of the family, the scorpion stays at your place. Chris will take care of it, of course.”
“My…house?” Johnny sputtered. “Shouldn’t we discuss this?”
“Joanne and I have thoroughly. Thanks for the help!” Roy slipped out of the room.
“I’m gonna move and not give you my address!” Johnny called after him.
A shadow darkened the doorway, “Gotcha!” Howls of laughter echoed throughout the station.
“Ya mean all of this was a setup?” Johnny dithered.
“Yup, Chet’s voice oozed with glee.
“Ha, ha, very funny. Now, whose idea was this anyway?” Johnny zeroed in on The Phantom.
Roy slapped him on the back, “We’ll never tell. Let’s go have a cup of coffee.”
“Roy?” Johnny waited until they were alone and then grinned. “This was a good one.” They traipsed to the kitchen to join the others who were already rehashing the prank.
Long-Leggedy Beasties . . by Rona
The Unfortunate Paramedic by Audrey
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