By Audrey W.
“Rampart, we have a male approximately thirty-five years old, suffering from abdominal and chest pain. Stand by for vital signs.”
“Standing by, 51.”
The engine crew from Station 51 watched as the paramedics from their station worked on the victim at a home they were all dispatched to. It had been reported in as an unknown type rescue, thus both were sent as a precaution. Once it was clear it was basically a situation for the paramedics, Captain Stanley just had his other crew wait while available for another call in the event they’d be needed to assist in the meantime.
While John Gage gathered the vitals, Roy DeSoto asked the wife, “Does he have any history of illness? Has he been sick lately?”
She shook her head. “No. . .no. In fact he was just fine a few hours ago.”
“Ohhh,” the man groaned. “I feel like I’m gonna be sick.”
“Did you eat anything unusual recently?” Roy asked him.
The question was met with silence, which had his wife scrutinizing her spouse.
“Danny. . .why haven’t you answered the man? Did you eat something that made you sick?”
“Well, I. . .”
“Oh, Danny, if you--”
Suddenly a neighbor buddy walked into the room, interrupting her. “Hey, what’s with the fire trucks? Marcia set--”
It was his turn to pause when he saw his friend laid out on the couch, the paramedics with him.
“He’s not feeling well,” Marcia explained to the puzzled look.
“I’m not surprised. After all the candy canes he ate at our house, I told him he was gonna regret it.”
Roy stood up. “Candy canes?”
John stopped in mid transmission to Rampart, telling them to stand by again.
The neighbor nodded while Danny cringed.
“Sure. We were just shootin’ the bull in my driveway when my sons came outta our house, daring each other to eat all the candy canes on our tree inside. Well, Danny here said it was no big deal. He could do it easily. Well, you know what happens when you say that to kids. Ya gotta live up to your words. So we went in and pulled ‘um all off. Sure enough, he managed to eat all twenty four. Then he made the mistake of saying he sure could use more. The boys wanted to see him eat ‘um. He slipped over here and pulled some of yours off the tree and brought them over so he could impress the kids.” He glanced at his ailing friend who looked even more sick now. “Guess all that peppermint and sugar didn’t agree with ya, huh?”
Marcia eyed the tree and suddenly noticed there were only a small number of the canes remaining.
In the meantime, John got back on the biophone. “Uh Rampart, we have an update. The victim consumed over twenty-four candy canes not long ago.” He glanced up at the wife. Judging by the angry expression on her face, Danny was in more danger now than he might’ve been a few minutes before.
Roy explained to Marcia just why her husband was probably feeling as bad as he was.
“Excessive peppermint can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, and allow stomach acid to leak into the esophagus. That’s likely part of what happened.”
“Oh, of all the stupid things to do, Danny!” She said as she folded her arms across her chest in a huff.
“What’re you mad about? You’re not laying on this couch feeling sick.”
She ignored Danny’s comment and just looked around, figuring they could argue about the situation later.
After consulting with Rampart, the paramedics advised Danny he should see his own doctor if he didn’t feel better soon.
The captian just had one question for the neighbor. “Aren’t you worried about what your wife is going to say when she sees the candy is all gone from your tree?”
He waved off the notion. “Ah, no. She hates candy canes anyway. Just put ‘um on there for the kids’ sake.”
Roy and the others just shook their heads.
As the firemen and paramedics left the house, the wife handed each a wrapped candy cane she’d quickly grabbed off the tree.
“With my over grown ‘kid’ and his antics, the less of these we keep around here, the better.”
As Chet passed her last, she realized there were no more to hand out. She looked around, then down at her four year old little girl, who’d come into the room with a baby doll she’d been playing with in one hand, a candy cane in the other. It was unwrapped and a little wet, but she was a mom. Nothing fazed her. She grabbed the candy stick, the element of surprise on her side so there was no resistance. She then quickly handed it to Chet.
He made a sour face as he felt the sticky peppermint against the skin of his palm. He emerged outside behind the others.
“Anybody wanna trade?”
Suddenly wailing could be heard from inside the home, the shock of what had just taken place obviously caught up to the child. Chet thought about running in and giving it back, but he doubted it would be in the kid’s best interest now. He held his hand out, palm down and tried to shake the candy off. It resisted falling, eliciting snickers from the others.
It was decided that since it was close to lunch time and neither the engine crew nor the paramedics had been sent on another rescue, the two crews would stop at a local grocery store on the way back to the station. Captain Stanley figured between the six of them, they should be able to round up enough food supplies for both lunch and dinner.
When they got into the store, they saw a six foot tall candy cane, a man’s face peeking out of it. He was standing beside a large Christmas tree on display, handing out tiny near bite-sized candy canes wrapped in clear cellophane.
“Now there’s a job for you,” Roy said to his partner.
He shook his head. “Ah, no. You’d never find me in one of those costumes.”
“Gage isn’t sweet enough to pull it off,” Chet remarked.
“Oh brother. . .”
“I wonder how many of those little things Danny could eat,” Mike remarked.
Gage snorted as laugh. “I have a feeling he won’t be getting near a candy cane for awhile.”
“Yeah,” Chet agreed. “Not even if his life depended on it.”
“Enough with the talk, let’s just get this done,” the captain directed. “Before either of us get dispatched out. John and Roy, you handle lunch. We’ll take care of dinner. Let’s meet back at the register no later than in ten minutes, if that.”
“Right, Cap,” John acknowledged.
He and Roy grabbed a shopping cart and headed straight for the bread aisle. In the meantime the others followed as Mike pushed a cart toward the meat department.
“Hey, Cap, I’m gonna go grab some rolls,” Chet offered.
The mustached fireman trotted down the aisle and around the end. Just as he started past the next one, a middle aged grandmother in a hurry and with her attention on two over active grandsons, rammed her shopping cart into a boxed candy cane display. The impact sent the previously tree shaped stack tumbling apart in three different directions.
Chet found himself scrambling away as much of the display flew in his direction.
The rest of the engine crew came racing around the corner to see what the commotion was all about. There was a hapless Kelly standing amongst the toppled display.
The captain shook his head, a slight grin on his face.
“I hope you didn’t cause this.”
Chet shook his head and pointed to the lady who was standing behind her half full shopping cart, her mouth open in dismay. He thought about his earlier words regarding Danny. At the moment he’d have to really consider getting near a candy cane if his life depended on it. He’d about had his fill of them without actually eating one bite.
The men had managed to get their groceries and make it back to the station before being toned out again. This time the call was for a structure fire.
At first glance, the building looked like a school of sorts. But the sign out front had the words ‘Merry Christmas from the Happy Hearts Senior Center’.
There were at least three dozen senior citizens gathered outside across the street, a few in wheel chairs, some with blankets draped over their shoulders as they stood. Chet noticed many had oversized candy canes as walking sticks.
There wasn’t time to ponder the situation there, as an alarm could still be heard from inside, indicating there was something very wrong.
“We’re not sure there’s an actual fire,” the manger explained. “My staff and I evacuated everyone as soon as the alarm went off. We haven’t been back in since, but haven’t seen any sign of smoke.”
“Did anyone get hurt in the process?” Captain Stanley asked.
“I don’t think so. But it’s possible and no one’s said yet. Some of these people are in pain a great deal anyway and wouldn’t really know I suppose.”
He directed his engine crew to search the building for any sign of a fire or an unusual heat source within the walls, then turned his attention to the paramedics.
“John, Roy, you two go check out the people over there.” He motioned toward the evacuated crowd. “Just make sure everyone is doing okay.”
They did as requested while the others did their part.
Soon it was discovered there was no fire and that one or more of the seniors apparently had wanted a little excitement, thus pulled the alarm. Though who it was, no one could figure out, nor would any snitch.
As Chet came back with Marco to where Engine 51 was parked, he looked once again at the elderly citizens as they headed back inside, having been given the all clear.
“I’ve never seen so many red and white canes in one place in my life.”
“Oh, we do it every Christmas for the residents,’ the manager explained. “Keeps their spirits up.”
Normally he’d see the reasoning there. But the curly haired firemen had been through enough candy cane experiences for the season. Their appeal had long gone away.
The next shift started out with the men gathered in the dayroom for donuts and coffee. It was a few minutes before roll call and they all wanted to take advantage of the time to grab a quick breakfast. It was just five days before Christmas and things were bound to get crazier as time wore on.
The captain came into the room with a small bag. He walked over to their recently acquired station mascot, a Bassett Hound they’d named Henry, who he made sure to point out to all the dog was not to be called ‘Hank’ as a nickname. . .by any of them. The dog lay in his usual spot on the leather sofa, which he rarely got off of.
“I’ve got something for you, boy. Kind of an early Christmas present from my wife.”
He reached in the bag and pulled out a candy cane shaped rawhide bone and handed it to the dog, who lazily took it in his mouth.
Hank Stanley turned to face his men.
“Don’t any of you expect a gift just because she gave Henry one.”
“Don’t worry, Cap,” Chet commented. “I think I can speak for the others when I say, we can do without one of those.”
“But I could use a new watch. . .” John kidded.
The others snickered as Hank crumpled up the bag and tossed it in the trash can near the kitchen area.
Two rescues later, the paramedics returned to the station after stopping at a department store on an errand once they’d left Rampart General Hospital for a second time.
“What’s in the bag?” Chet asked when he saw Roy grab it from the middle of the seat.
“A Santa gift for my daughter. My wife wanted me to get it while I was here and keep it in my locker till Christmas.”
“I don’t know if I’d do that. If you get hurt and someone has to go through your locker for anything. . .havin’ Barbie stashed inside might just tarnish your reputation.”
“It’s not a Barbie, Chet,” John explained as he came around the front of the squad to join them. “It’s a game.”
That did explain why the bag was long and flat shaped.
“You mean like Checkers?” Chet raised his right index finger. “Hey, can we try it out for the kid?”
“I don’t think I’d do that,” Gage snickered. “It’s not Checkers. It’s Candyland. It might just ruin your reputation, Chester B.”
Roy smiled. “Yeah, you know, with gum drop cards, Candy Cane Lane.”
Chet quickly backed up, his hands up in front of his chest. “Hey, on second thought, keep that game tucked away in your locker. Far inside!”
Not only did the thought of a little girl’s game change his mind, but the idea there’d be candy canes on the board for the lane. . .
Later the station was sent out for a structure fire. First thing Chet noticed when he’d climbed down from the engine, were the two red and white striped, animated poles at the barber shop a few doors down from the location of the fire. They were decorated with green garland and ribbon, giving them a very Christmassy look.
Fortunately, the call only involved a kitchen fire in a small restaurant. It was quickly brought under control and extinguished by the crew from 51. John and Roy treated two employees from the business for smoke inhalation. Neither victim wanted to go to the hospital for further care. Thus they were advised to seek medical attention from their own doctors if any complications arose.
As they readied to leave the scene, Chet once again eyed the striped poles.
Candy canes . . .was the only thought that came to mind. The poles just reminded him of decorated candy canes, minus the actual cane design at the top.
The fire was a huge one. It was one of the worst structure fires Chet had ever seen. To make matters worse, Johnny and Roy were trapped in a second story room with a victim. They’d need to be rescued to save their lives.
While other engine crews battled the blaze, Chet ran behind Marco as they hurried to the engine to get a ladder.
Chet stopped just short of their destination when he saw round red and white striped peppermint candies in place of wheels on the engine.
“C’mon, Chet! Help me with this ladder! We have to hurry!”
The mustached fireman kept his shocked gaze on the peppermint wheels as he made his way to assist.
But when he got to where Marco was, his lower jaw went slack. The ladder was made of peppermint stick rungs set within giant candy canes for the sides!
Next thing Chet knew, he was waking up in a rear seat on Engine 51. As he glanced around, he saw Marco riding quietly beside him. Captain Stanley could be heard talking to Mike in the front of the cab behind them.
*That fire with the candy canes must’ve been a dream. . .*
Soon they were just about to the station. Chet looked out as they approached. He did a double take
*What in the. . .?*
There in the front yard of the station was a tall tree made of candy canes.
He nudged the fireman next to him. “Marco, you see that?”
“The tree! That big red and white tree!”
Marco looked at Chet in puzzlement.
Suddenly Chet found himself bolting upright, seated in bed in the darkened dorm room. He quickly took in his familiar surroundings, then pinched himself. It hurt. He was finally awake. At least he hoped so.
Right away, without disturbing the others who were still asleep, he made his way outside to the front of the station, noting along the way that the ladder and wheels of the engine were normal.
There was no sign of a candy cane tree outside. He sighed, then rubbed at his tired eyes.
“Now I know I’ve seen way too many of those red and white things.”
Once he was off duty by eight o’clock in the morning, Chet was on a mission. As soon as he stepped inside his apartment, he went over to the four foot tall Christmas tree he’d set upon a metal TV tray and removed all six wrapped candy canes he’d hung on it early in the month.
“Out you go,” he said as he headed for the front door. But where would he put them? He couldn’t just lay them on the walkway outside. Then it hit him. He trotted out to the parking lot from his ground floor apartment, to a large shade tree that hung over a fence line dividing the complex from a local business. There he hung the candy canes on three of the branches that were on his side.
Satisfied he’d be candy cane free for the duration of time till he was back on duty, the fireman smugly walked back to his apartment. However, he wasn’t so smug when he received a knock on the door about two hours later. A little girl who lived in the building and had a crush on him stood in the open doorway with an offering he hadn’t expected.
“I found it in the candy cane tree,” she explained as she handed him the sweet red and white arched stick. She stood with a proud bright smile.
Chet was sure he had to look as ill as he felt.
It was the twenty-third of December when Station 51’s A-shift pulled duty again. The men were all happy they’d be off for Christmas. It also meant that they’d be doing their own gift exchanges before they got off.
Not long after their shift began, they were sent out for a motor vehicle accident on the 405 freeway. Over an hour later they were back at the station when the tones sounded again, this time for a man down at the mall.
The men scrambled for their respective vehicles and in moments were on their way.
“Oh this isn’t going to be easy,” Captain Stanley said when he realized how many children were waiting at the mall to see Santa Claus.
They’d been led to where the incident occurred, which turned out to be the set up for young ones to see the red-suited white-bearded jolly old man. Only he wasn’t so jolly now and the waiting youths were growing impatient, as no one had figured out how to break the news to them that just two days before Christmas, ‘Santa’ was down. As in laid out on the floor.
The line wound through a maze constructed of six foot tall partition white walls with festive designs, including painted on candy canes that went from the floor to nearly the top edge. The maze led to a makeshift North Pole Santa’s room. It was enclosed by the same type of walls. Here and there along the outside were tall artificial trees decorated with lights and ornaments.
There was a door that gave immediate access to the room with a large high-backed red velvet covered chair and replica of a fancy sleigh often featured in story books inside, along with another decorated tree. It was flocked with white make-shift snow. The ‘secret’ entrance allowed the firemen to get straight to the downed Santa without disrupting the children further.
“What happened?” John asked as he knelt beside the now cranky man.
“I was climbing. . .out of my sleigh. . .to get ready for. . .the barrage. . .of brat. . .er. . .children. . . . .when I misjudged my step. . .and fell. My back. . .hurts so bad. And my . . .left knee. I think I. . .twisted it.”
The men eyed the gold painted, jeweled sleigh that wasn’t far from the chair due to the lack of space.
While the paramedics worked on Mr. Claus, Chet looked at the painted on candy canes within the room. Atleast the partitions were keeping the kids from view and protected from the unhappy words of Santa. But the large designs had his mind shift to something else.
It’s like something out of a horror movie. . .attack of the killer candy canes. . .Hey, that might be a good movie to see. . .too bad I can’t write!
The fireman was brought out of his thoughts. He quickly glanced around, wondering if he’d missed something. Captain Stanley sounded a bit angry himself.
“Look, they’re bringing in a replacement Santa through a back entrance to the mall, then they’ll sneak him in here. In the meantime, we need those kids to stay busy.”
He grabbed Chet’s right hand, plopped a handful of wrapped candy canes in it and pointed toward the opening that led directly to the front of the waiting line.
“I want you to put on an elf hat and help the other elves keep those kids busy by handing these out.”
Uh oh. . .the captain had used his last name.
He quickly complied realizing he’d better, but figured this was the last of the last straws. He was done__kaput__finished__ with candy canes. Especially when the first response he got was, “What? I wait in line for an hour and all I get is this?”
John and Roy returned to the station after taking the first Santa Claus to Rampart. The two strolled out to where the rest of the crew, minus Captain Stanley, was playing basket ball in the back lot.
“How is Santa doing?” Marco wondered.
“He’ll be laid up for awhile,” Roy explained. “But he’ll be back next year. . .somewhere else. I don’t think the management was too happy once they heard what he really thought of little kids.”
“Good thing he was just a stand in,” Mike teased. “Or we’d be out a few presents.”
“I’m not sure all of us are worthy of being off the naughty list,” Gage said with a grin directed at Chet.
But he didn’t play along as they expected. Instead he had another thought.
“All I know is that if I see one more candy cane this Christmas, I swear I’m gonna lose it. I mean, doesn’t anyone go for marshmallow cream fudge anymore?”
When it was decided they’d do their gift exchange in the morning, the men later turned in, looking forward to the next two days off and doing a quick celebration before they left.
“Who got my name again?” Chet asked as he made his way to his bed next to Marco’s. He was clad in white briefs and a white t-shirt.
“Nice try!” Gage called out from his bed across the room. “No one told you because ya aren’t s’pose to know yet.”
“I don’t see how--”
Chet stopped in mid sentence when he pulled back the covers on his bed. His eyes widened.
“All right, who’s the wise guy?”
The sound of five snickers filled the room.
Candy cane print sheets and a covered pillow of the same design, were on his bed.
“Merry Christmas!” Chimed his shiftmates in unison.
This was inspired by an candy cane tree shaped ornament I bought last year. :o) I put it in the yard of my Station 51 replica and a story idea was born.
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