By Audrey W.
John Gage leaned against the counter near the base station at Rampart while he waited for his partner. Roy DeSoto had gone in with a victim they’d transported to the hospital from a minor automobile accident. A Styrofoam cup of coffee in his right hand, Johnny let out an audible sigh.
Dixie McCall glanced over her shoulder from her seat at the desk.
“What’s that all about?”
“The sigh. Anything you want to talk about?”
“Oh. . .I don’ know, Dix.”
“Is it serious?”
Johnny gave it thought. He tossed the half-empty cup in the trash can under the desk.
“It is to me.”
“Uh oh. Does that comment mean Roy thinks otherwise?”
Very often Johnny would be hung up about something his partner would shrug off, and it’d put the two at odds with one another. But Gage shook his head ‘no’.
“Actually, I haven’t discussed it with Roy yet.”
“Oh. . .I see.”
With her gaze still on him, he decided it was time to confide in someone.
“Dix, you know it’s Valentines Day tomorrow.”
“Well. . .uh. . .it’s just that for the third year in a row, I don’t have a date. I don’t get it. I mean, I have one at other times during the year . . .obviously,” he snorted when he realized what he’d said. “I’d really have a problem if I ever went a year without a date. But when it comes to February, the calendar is wide open. Nothin’.”
“Well, if it helps, I’ve had my share of lonely Valentines Days too. I think everyone has at one time or another.”
“That’s just it; at one time or another. Not year after year.”
“You could look at the bright side.”
“If there’s a bright side to it, I’d sure like to know what it is. . .”
“Look at the money you save not having to buy roses,” she offered with a warm smile. “They can be very expensive, you know.”
Johnny just frowned as he saw Roy came out of the treatment room. The senior paramedic joined them.
“What’d I miss?”
“Nothin’,” Gage quickly assured.
Certain he’d missed something by the rushed answer, Roy glanced at Dixie who simply shrugged. He then eyed Gage.
“Right. Well, what we’re both missing is that work we have left at the station.” To Dixie he explained, “We didn’t finish cleaning up the dayroom.” With his attention back on Johnny, he asked, “You ready?”
“Yeah, I’m ready. See ya, Dix.”
As the younger man passed by, Dixie gave a slight smile of encouragement.
“See you guys later.”
“Yep, see you later,” Roy added as they headed down the corridor.
Johnny was silent as Roy drove the squad in the direction of Station 51. He thought about mentioning the February pattern that was making him unhappy. But he wasn’t certain the other would understand. After all, Roy had known his wife since they were in fourth grade together; Johnny doubted he’d had a Valentines Day without a girl since.
Roy just glanced at his quiet partner and shook his head as he returned his attention to the street ahead.
When they got back to the station, Johnny headed for the dorm, but was stopped when he heard Roy call out, “Hey, aren’t you forgetting something?”
The dayroom. . .
They still had to finish cleaning it.
Man. . .
He sure wasn’t in the mood for the task, but knew better than to think he wouldn’t be expected to help. Johnny turned and joined up with his partner in front of the squad.
“Don’t look so glum,” Roy commented with a grin. “We’ll be done before you know it.”
Johnny once again thought about discussing what was bothering him, but couldn’t get past the likelihood Roy would be of little help. Instead he gave a smile and shrugged.
“Who’s glum? Let’s get back to it.”
But thoughts of a lonely February fourteenth stayed on his mind.
Johnny picked up the morning newspaper from the table and held it out. “You wanna read this?”
Roy shook his head, then went back to his sweeping.
The younger man was about to deposit the paper in the trash can when he noticed an article on the front.
‘Carson Couples to Marry on Valentines Day in Special Group Ceremony’
He frowned as he glanced over the announcement. Would his day ever come? Sometimes it didn’t seem like it. He tossed the folded up paper in the can just as Chet Kelly walked into the room.
“Hey! I haven’t read that yet,” Chet protested as he hurried over and grabbed it from the black metal container.
“Well, take it somewhere else. We’re busy in here.”
“Sure, John. Wouldn’t wanna hold up progress.”
Johnny exchanged a glance with Roy and rolled his eyes. A few seconds later, the klaxons sounded and the squad was sent on a response for a man down.
When they arrived at the scene, a man was lying in the middle of the street, dressed in blue jeans and shirtless. A red sports car was stopped a few feet away from him with a bike in front of it, the rear tire and part of the frame jammed under the bumper. A young woman with assorted bystanders near her was repeatedly crying out, “My car! Look what you did to my car!”
The paramedics gathered their gear from the squad compartments and trotted to where the man lay.
“What happened?” Johnny asked as he set down the biophone and drug box, then knelt beside the man.
Roy set the trauma box on the paved surface and joined him.
“He dented my car! That’s what!”
“She. . .she hit me. . .I was on. . .the bike,” he groaned.
Johnny was glad to see a police car pull up to the scene. The officer could get to the bottom of who was at fault and they could try to get on with the medical issues.
After having the spectators step back, Johnny checked the man’s bp while Roy asked, “Can you tell us where it hurts?”
“Everywhere. . .”
“Oh it does not!” she protested.
He looked up at her, his teeth gritted. “Yes__it does. You hit me with your car! Knocked me right. . .off my bike!”
She stomped toward her vehicle as Officer Vince Howard approached the others.
“What’ve we got?”
Gage jotted the bp numbers in his little black notebook, then answered, “Well, so far we know he was hit on his bike by that car.” He motioned toward it. “An’ she was drivin’.”
The man looked up at the cop from his position on the ground. “She hit. . .me. . .I didn’t. . .think she would.”
The young woman was already back over, ready to declare herself as the victim. “I didn’t hit him. Jake rode out in front of me.”
While the paramedics continued to work, Vince looked down at the injured man. “Is that how it happened?”
Bystanders were nodding while he answered, “Well, kinda. . .I was tryin’ to get my engagement ring back. . .we broke up and Janice just left. . .I got on my bike and took off. . . after her. . .to get the ring. . .I cut across yards to catch up. . .” he paused a moment to grimace when Johnny palpated his left side.
“Sorry, man” the paramedic stated.
Jake carried on, “I thought if I was . . .in front of her. . .she’d stop. I mean, we were almost married. . .what kind of girl. . .runs over her husband-to-be?”
“What kind of a husband-to-be dents his girl’s car?” she retorted.
Johnny and Roy took turns eyeing the couple, neither wanting to say much other than what they had to to treat the victim. Roy was grateful for his solid relationship with his wife, Johnny was glad none of the girls that had dumped him had landed him at Rampart Emergency. . .yet.
Once they had Jake ready for transport, Johnny climbed up inside the ambulance with him. Along the way to the hospital Jake asked him, “You married?”
“Uh. . .no.”
“So I guess I shouldn’t be asking you for advice, huh?”
He hated to admit it but, “Probably not. I’d say don’t ride out in front of anymore moving vehicles though. . .once you. . .uh. . . get a new bike, that is.”
“Don’t worry. I’ve learned my lesson.”
After a moment of thought, Johnny questioned, “Why’d you two break up anyway? Seems you must’ve really loved ‘er if you wanted to spend the rest of your life with ‘er.”
“Whose family we were gonna spend Christmas with next year.”
The paramedic didn’t know what to say. To him the reason was even crazier than riding a bicycle out in front of a moving vehicle to try and stop it.
Once Jake was in the care of Doctor Brackett, Johnny joined Roy near the base station. Dixie was talking to him as she worked on the nurses’ schedule for the next three weeks.
“Hi, Johnny,” she greeted with a warm smile. She then motioned toward Roy with just her eyes, her brows raised in question. Johnny very briefly shook his head ‘no’.
“Hey, you wouldn’t believe why that couple broke up.”
Both Roy and Dixie waited to hear.
“They couldn’t agree on whose family to spend next Christmas with.”
“I thought they weren’t married,” Dixie commented.
“Just jumping the gun a little,” Roy said as he looked down the corridor.
Johnny followed his gaze and was surprised to see Janice sitting in the waiting area.
“Don’t tell me after all that, she wants to get back with Jake.”
“I don’t think so. I think she’s here to give him a list of the damages to her car.”
“Oh.” Johnny shook his head. Somehow it wouldn’t surprise him.
While they were in the squad and headed back to the station, Johnny turned in his seat to face his partner.
“So did you and Joanne ever have a fight over whose parents to spend the holidays with?”
“No, we grew up in the same neighborhood, remember? Our folks lived close by each other so we could spend some time with both.”
“Well how about now? They all live farther away.”
“It’s simple. They come to see us.”
It sure was simple. And it didn’t surprise him Roy and Joanne had worked it out. Another reminder the couple was a perfect match from day one.
With their chore done, Johnny was able to find time alone at the station. While the others played checkers or read the newspaper or a magazine, he lay on his bed in the dorm. His hands behind his head, he stared upwards as he contemplated another Valentines Day without a girl on his arm.
“Man, is is askin’ to much just to have cupid’s arrow hit one chick around Valentine’s Day? I mean, what’s a guy gotta do?”
But he’d have to end his thoughts there as the klaxons once again went off. This time the station was sent out on a run for a house fire.
It was a brief ten minutes at the fire before Roy found himself in an ambulance with a victim. The father of the family who lived there had suffered smoke inhalation when he went into the burning home to rescue a pet rabbit his small children were crying for. He’d just made it out with the animal when the fire department arrived and collapsed on the ground coughing heavily.
Johnny followed behind in the squad, his mind completely on the traffic as he navigated his way to Rampart. But once he was at his destination, his mind returned to his latest problem when he saw young nurses here and there, none of which he was dating at the moment.
He saw Dixie come out of the nurses’ lounge and stop as she waited for him to catch up to her.
“Well, how’re things going? Feeling any better?”
He shook his head. “Not really, Dix. I just--” He cut himself off as he watched a pretty nurse in her twenties walk by, a mournful expression on his face.
“Have you talked to Roy yet?”
“No. I don’t think he’d understand this.”
“Because he’s been with Joanne for years. Years. Since the fourth grade, they’ve known each other,” he explained with a wave of his right hand. “How’s a guy who’s had a girl since grade school. . .the same girl. . . gonna understand what it’s like to be alone on the day when couples celebrate being . . .well,” again he waved his hand as he searched for what he was trying to say, finally finishing with, “. . .couples?”
“Do you know for sure they were together all those years? I mean,” she shrugged, “Teens especially can pretty fickle about things. Maybe they had a period of time they weren’t actually a ‘couple’; I’m sure they had a tiff or two.”
Johnny gave it thought. “You know. . .come to think of it, he did say they’d known each other since the fourth grade. . .not that they’d been together since then.”
Dixie smiled. “There you see? Roy probably hasn’t had as perfect of a love life as you thought. And who knows? Maybe he’s spent more than one Valentines Day longing for a date.”
“Yeah,” Johnny said with a crooked grin. “Yeah, you’re right.” But after a few seconds, his smile turned to a frown.
“What’s the matter?”
“I feel even worse now.”
“’Cause I’m so miserable, I was actually enjoyin’ that Roy probably was at one time too. Man, have I sunk that low?”
Before the head nurse could respond to his question and added gloom, Roy came out of another treatment room and joined them, once again wondering what he’d missed.
“Nothin’,” Johnny answered with a forced casualness in his voice. “Nothin’.”
Dixie again shrugged. It was the only safe answer she could think of. She sure could understand even more so now what Roy often went through with his partner’s moods.
“We’d better get goin’. Bye, Dix,” Gage said as he turned to leave.
Roy gave her another quick look in question, then glanced at his retreating partner. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was definitely up. He’d have to find out later. With a quick ‘see ya’ to Dixie, he followed behind Johnny.
Half way to the station, Roy questioned, “So is there somethin’ you need to talk about?”
Johnny glanced at him and quick panic hit. Had Dixie let the secret out? But common sense told him there hadn’t been nearly enough time from when he left to when Roy caught up with him to allow for it. The panic was replaced by a wave of guilt as he recalled what he and Dixie had discussed, and how he’d felt about it at first. Shifting his gaze out the passenger window, he shook his head.
Roy stole a quick look at him to see if he could read anything from Gage’s body language. But with Johnny’s face turned away, it was useless. He’d just have to take ‘no’ as the answer.
Just as Roy was backing the squad into the station driveway, dispatch sent them out for a ‘woman down’. Roy flicked on the lights and siren as Johnny jotted down the address. The paramedics quickly donned their helmets and were on their way.
When they arrived at the scene, they were met by a man in his early twenties. He waited patiently as the paramedics gathered their gear. As soon as they turned to face him, he motioned for them to follow.
“Is anyone with her now?” Roy asked.
“Yeah, my mom and sister. Mom didn’t wanna leave her and figured Candice. . .my sister. . .wouldn’t be of much help to you guys; she’s too upset.”
The two firemen followed him onto the front porch and inside the one-story home.
“She’s in the bathroom.”
“What happened?” Johnny wondered.
“She went to get up off the toilet and fell. She’s hurtin’ pretty bad.”
“Did you move her?” Roy asked.
“No, sir. Mom had me call you guys and said she’d keep Gramma from trying to get up.”
He led them through the livingroom to the hallway. When they came to a second doorway on the right, he stepped inside.
“They’re here, Mom.”
Johnny and Roy saw a white-haired woman lying between a toilet and bath tub, fear and confusion etched in her features. A blue blanket covered her from the waist down. Another woman who appeared to be in her fifties was kneeling beside her, trying to keep her calm. A teenaged girl they assumed to be Candice was standing close to a sink, looking on as she wrung her hands in nervousness.
The middle-aged woman immediately got to her feet and stepped over to quickly fill the paramedics in. “She slipped and hit her left arm and hip on the floor. She’s in a lot of pain.”
They both nodded and started forward when the woman reached out and grabbed Johnny’s left arm. When he stopped she whispered, “She’s scared. And she’s very worried about being seen. . .you know. . .she hadn’t had a chance to put her clothes back in place before she fell.”
He flashed a smile, “We’ll be careful with her. What’s her name?”
While Roy placed the biophone and drug box on the floor, Johnny approached the elderly lady and tried to put her at ease as best he could once he’d set the trauma box down.
“Agnes, I’m John Gage and this is my partner Roy DeSoto. We’re gonna take good care of you alright? Just let us do all the work, okay?”
“I. . .I’m not. . .” she looked at the blanket that covered her legs and the skirt of her green paisley dress.
“It’s okay,” he assured.
She nodded and remained silent except for an occasional groan as they checked her vital signs. Roy gave the information to Rampart while Johnny checked her over for injuries.
“Just lie still, Agnes, and we’re gonna turn you so we can see exactly what’s goin’on with your arm and hip, okay? Remember let us do all the work.”
She did as requested and soon they were able to determine she’d bruised her elbow and likely fractured her hip.
As they carefully lifted her onto a stretcher once the ambulance had arrived, Agnes looked around in confusion.
“Where’s Robert? I can’t go without my Robert.”
Johnny exchanged a baffled look with Roy before asking the family members he was standing near, “Who’s Robert?”
“My father,” the mother of two explained in a hushed tone. “She was married to him for forty-five years.”
“Where is he?” the paramedic asked as he heard Agnes once again call out for her husband.
“He died six years ago. Mom gets confused about things and sometimes she thinks he’s still alive. I have to tell her again and again that he’s gone. She’s lived with us since about a month after the funeral.”
Knowing she had to repeat the routine so her mother would leave peacefully, the woman stepped over and bent down. She held her mother’s right hand as she explained, “Mom, Dad’s no longer with us, remember?”
When she got an uncomprehending look in return, she added, “Robert passed away six years ago, Mom. Remember the funeral?”
Agnes appeared puzzled, but a slight look of familiarity soon came over her features. She slowly nodded, a lost expression now replacing the other.
Johnny felt bad for the elderly lady. Though she was told the news over and over, it was obviously painful for her. Her love for her husband was still there.
“I’ll ride in with her, Roy,” he offered.
“Okay.” Roy reached out and gave her hand a gentle squeeze once the daughter had let go. “It’s gonna be all right.”
By the time they arrived at Rampart, Agnes had told Johnny all about her husband and how wonderful their marriage was. He still got the feeling she was living in the past with Robert but part of it could have been the MS she’d been given, he surmised. She was a little out of it from the medication.
She’d also asked him a couple of questions about his own love life, or lack thereof.
After he left her in the reliable care of Doctors Early and Morton, Johnny found his partner alone in the nurses’ lounge with a cup of coffee in front of him where he sat at a round table.
“What’dya do?” Johnny teased. “Scare all the girls away?”
“Either that or they heard you were in the ‘house’ and went into hiding.”
The comment was meant in fun as well, he knew that. But in his current funk, it stung. Still, Johnny snickered and forced a slight lopsided grin.
“You ready to blow this popsicle stand?”
Roy nodded as he pushed back his chair and got to his feet.
On the way back to the station, Gage occasionally stole a quick glance at his partner. Not only did Roy have a wife he loved dearly to celebrate Valentines Day with, but they were sure to grow old together as well. He had no doubt.
Man, even *that* prospect doesn’t look good for me right now. . .
He watched ahead the remainder of the way, still certain that Roy just wouldn’t understand his dilemma.
The rest of the day, Roy had to put up with periodic questioning from Chet as to what was bothering his partner.
“I don’t know,” he answered for the fifth time, but it felt like the twentieth.
“There’s somethin’ up, Roy. I mean, for one thing he’s quiet. When have you ever known Gage to be quiet unless there’s something buggin’ him?”
Roy was about to respond, but Kelly continued with, “And where is he?” he looked around the dayroom, his arms outstretched as he turned each direction. “Normally he’d be in here talking about some new crazy idea on how to make extra money or givin’ me a hard time since I’d be giving him one.”
“Exasperated, Roy shot in with, “I told ya, I don’t know. He hasn’t said a thing to me.”
Chet gave it a moment of thought before his facial expression brightened. “Oh I got it all figured out now. There’s nothing buggin’ John, he’s just acting like it so I’ll wonder what’s up. Then I ask you and. . .” he eyed Roy suspiciously. “You’re in this together!”
Roy leaned back in his seat and sighed. The shift couldn’t end soon enough for him. And he sure hoped that what ever his partner’s problem was, it was over before their next one.
Johnny sat up in bed and pushed back his covers. The morning tones had gone off a few minutes before and it was just under an hour away from the end of the shift.
Almost time to go home to an empty apartment, Johnny thought. No one to say ‘welcome home’ or ‘good mornin’; no one ta make the day special. . .
He looked across to Roy’s already empty bed. Johnny figured he was likely up early making sure he had his special day with his wife and family planned out. Or maybe calling the flower shop to make sure the dozen roses he ordered the day before were going to be delivered on time. The store was supposed to be open earlier than usual for the holiday.
With a sigh, he slung his legs over the side of the bed and rubbed at his face with his right hand. But the slow awakening suddenly picked up pace when the klaxons sounded again, this time for an actual call.
“Station 51, unknown type rescue, 3211 North Citrus Street, three two one one North Citrus Street, time out 07:04.”
Roy brought the squad to a stop in front of a small one-story house with a sidewalk that led up to a square cement porch. He and Johnny quickly climbed out as Mike Stoker parked the engine close behind their truck. The front door to the home flew open and a young woman in a pink fuzzy bathrobe and brown clog-style shoes rushed out.
The paramedics were in the process of grabbing their gear from the squad compartments and increased their pace at the urgency in her voice.
As they turned to head toward the home, she met them, breathing hard from her dash down the walkway. Hank had the rest of the crew wait by the engine and trotted over to the others, where he made an effort to find out exactly why he and his men were there.
“It’s my sister! She’s locked herself . . .in the bathroom. . . and won’t come out!”
“How old is she?” Johnny asked as the foursome hurried toward the front door. As he asked the question, Captain Stanley motioned for Chet, Marco and Mike to stay put.
“Twenty-three. And she’s six months pregnant.”
Just before they were to the door, a police car arrived at the scene. Hank turned around and trotted toward Officer Vince Howard to brief him on the situation while Johnny and Roy followed the woman inside.
“Why would your sister want to lock herself in the bathroom?” Roy wondered.
“She’s really upset. She called me this morning . . . crying. . . said she was alone all night; that Donny. . .her husband. . .still wasn’t home. I was so worried about her after she hung up, I got in my car and rushed over here.”
“Is she worried about ‘im? Maybe if you call a couple of local hospitals you’ll know whether or not he’s been admitted to one; if somethin’ might’ve happened to him or not.”
She shook her head ‘no’ to Johnny’s idea as they arrived at the closed bathroom door after passing through a kitchen and into a very short hallway. The locked room was across from a bedroom.
“Can you just get the door open so I can talk to Belinda? Calm her down?”
Johnny was puzzled as to why she shot down his suggestion. If it could bring her sister a little relief, what would be the harm?
“Belinda,” Roy called out from where he stood close to the door. “My name’s Roy DeSoto and I’m a paramedic with the L.A. County Fire Department. Can you open the door so my partner and I can make sure you’re okay?”
“No!” came a muffled reply. “Just leave me alone!”
“Can we at least check you over to make sure everything’s all right with the baby?”
There was silence a moment. “I’m not coming out!”
“You don’t have to come out,” Johnny offered. “Just let us in.”
Hank and Vince had made their way inside, and joined Johnny and Roy by the door.
“How the situation look?”
Johnny shook his head. “Not good, Cap. I think we’re gonna hafta break in. But if she won’t let us--”
Just then a young man in a rumpled, untucked white collared shirt and jeans came up behind them. He scanned over the group in the home.
“What’s going on?” His gaze rested on the sister. “Marcia, what the hell’re you doing here?”
Before anyone had a chance to say anything, the bathroom door flew open and Belinda raced out, her rounded belly evident underneath her yellow gingham nightgown. She immediately went to the new arrival and started hitting him in the chest.
“You bastard! I hate you, Donny! I hate you, I hate you!”
“Hey, hey,” Johnny called out as he and Vince tried to stop the onslaught. “You’re not gonna do your baby any favors getting worked up.”
But Belinda was determined and kept swinging at her husband as they tried to put some distance between the two.
“I hate you!” she yelled out once more before collapsing to the floor in sobs.
“Does someone want to tell me what’s going on here?” Officer Howard asked as he looked from Belinda to Donny, his gaze finally resting on Marcia.
“Ask him,” she suggested. “Ask him where he got lipstick on his collar from. Ask him what kind of husband stays out all night with his girlfriend when he’s got a pregnant wife at home.”
Johnny and Roy looked up from where they were squatted down by Belinda. Suddenly things were crystal clear.
Johnny offered to ride in with Belinda. They were taking her non-code R to Rampart just as a precaution. Roy closed the rear doors of the ambulance and gave them two slaps. As the ambulance pulled away, he trotted over to have a brief talk with Captain Stanley before getting in the squad.
Johnny wasn’t sure what more he could say to his charge other than the reassurance he gave that others cared about her and the baby. He was still trying to understand how a guy could be married, with a child on the way no less, and feel right about having a girlfriend on the side.
“Oh. . .happy Valentines Day, by the way.”
He looked at Belinda in surprise. He hadn’t expected that, though her voice was tinged with sarcasm. He shrugged. “For some people maybe, huh?”
She let out a long sigh. “You know, I used to think it was lonely being single.” After a swipe at a tear on her cheek and a sniffle, she continued. “But it doesn’t even compare to what it’s like to be married to a man who’s hardly ever home; to have someone. . .and still be alone.”
Johnny just looked down at the wedding band on her finger as he gave the words thought.
A white vase with a bouquet of twelve long-stemmed roses in it beside her, Dixie pointed toward the exit when Johnny came out of Treatment Room Four in search of his partner. He’d wanted to stay with Belinda a little longer for support, but since they had to get back to the station and turn the squad over to the next shift, he didn’t have a choice but to leave soon after arriving. They were already running late as it was. At least he knew the young pregnant woman wouldn’t be returning to her home and her cheating husband anytime soon. She was going to stay at her sister’s for awhile.
“Roy’s waiting in the squad.”
“Okay, thanks, Dix.”
As he walked away, she called out, “Johnny!” and hurried from behind the desk where she caught up to him after he turned around. She held out a rose, the stem wet. “Happy Valentines Day.”
He glanced at the bouquet on her desk. “You sure? I mean. . .”
She smiled and shrugged. “I think eleven’ll do. And I doubt Kel and Joe will mind.”
He returned the smile and accepted the flower from her. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Just be careful of the thorns. And keep your chin up. I’m sure you’ll have the right girl some Valentines Day. Who knows, it could even be the next one.”
“I guess so. There is one thing I do know for sure though.”
“Given the choice of being alone or with the wrong chick, right now I’ll take alone.”
He gave a brief wave with the stem of the rose carefully held between his right thumb and index finger, a brighter smile on his face. Things certainly could be worse. The situations and victims they’d encountered during the shift reminded him of that.
Johnny climbed into the squad and set the flower on the dash.
Roy glanced at it, then his partner. “So you have been holding out on me.”
The younger man smirked at the comment and let out a slight snort for a laugh. “Dixie,” he offered.
DeSoto nodded in acknowledgement, and wondered if Gage had forgotten to get any flowers for a girl so Dixie helped him out. “How’s Belinda doing?”
“I think she’ll be okay.” And she’s not the only one, he thought to himself.
“Let’s hope so.”
Roy turned the key in the ignition and drove forward as they headed out of the lot. Johnny remained quiet as he reflected on the lesson he’d learned; that being alone and being lonely were sometimes two very different things.
Over twenty years ago when I was single and feeling blue this time of year, a person very close to me taught me what Johnny learned through a situation similar to Belinda's. I've never forgotten how lucky I felt then to just be single and alone. :o)
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