Alternate Ending 2
By Audrey W.
Roy DeSoto quickly shifted his gaze up from the drug box he was inventorying, a look of shock on his face.
His partner John Gage was nearby, leaning on the hood of their rescue squad having just checked the calibration of the biophone. It was standard practice for the paramedics to go over the supplies and equipment at the beginning of each shift.
“I’m gonna be driving an ice cream truck,” Gage repeated.
“That’s what I thought you said, but then I also thought for sure I was hearing things.”
“Roy, look. . .man, I’ve been wantin’ to make some extra money for awhile now. And I’ve been wantin’ to make some music, too. What better way than to do both. . .kill two birds with one stone, if you will. . .than to do it that way?”
“I just don’t think you realize what you’re getting yourself into.”
“I do know. . .I know exactly what I’m getting’ myself into. A truck I actually get to drive.”
“Sounds like a disgruntled partner to me, Roy.”
Chet Kelly had just come around the front of the engine, a broom in his right hand. He’d been assigned the chore of sweeping the dorm room floor.
“Kelly, would ya stay outta this?”
“Sure, John. If I knew what ‘this’ is.”
Gage rolled his eyes.
“Johnny’s going into the ice cream truck business.”
“As in selling the trucks or the ice cream inside?”
Again the dark haired paramedic rolled his eyes, this time followed by a sigh.
“Fine, Chet. If you must know, I’m gonna be driving an ice cream truck around a neighborhood on my days off. You know, that plays music and kids come out to greet and buy frozen treats with nickels an’ dimes an’ quarters.”
“Great. Just let me know what neighborhood and the times so I know where and when to stay away.”
“Well, there’s gotta be some reason Roy rarely lets ya drive the squad with him in it.”
John glanced at his partner. “See why I don’t wanna let him in on these things?”
Roy grinned as Chet asked, “So what made you wanna do this anyway?”
“Music! You know, playin’ tunes. I obviously wasn’t gonna get very far with the guitar playin’. No one needs a solo guitarist--”
“An amateur guitarist,” Roy put in.
“An amateur,” Gage readily admitted. “So I thought to myself, what kind of music could I play that does pay off immediately? And then it clicked. The ice cream truck. I mean, it’s gotta be easy money. After all, what could possibly go wrong?”
“You really have to ask that after rescuing an ice cream truck driver from his freezer two weeks ago?”
John snorted a laugh. “Now what are the odds of that happening again?”
“With you. . .?”
“All right. All right. Enough with the snide comments.” Gage put the biophone in its compartment on the passenger side of the squad, then turned to face his often annoying shiftmate. “Ye of little faith is gonna need an ice cream spoon to eat your words. And I’ll even supply it,” he said, his right hand splayed on his chest.
Chet and Roy exchanged glances. Roy hoped Chet was wrong. Chet hoped he was wrong as well, but at the same time sure didn’t want Johnny to be right either.
Two weeks later, after Gage had a few experiences with his new found money making opportunity, the crew of A-shift was once again on duty at the station. The dark-haired paramedic was still upright and healthy, which he wasted no time in pointing out to Chet.
“Here ya go,” he said as he handed a cellophane wrapped small flat wooden spoon to Chet. The fireman had just walked from the dorm area into the locker room, where the paramedics were getting dressed.
Chet hesitantly took it. “What’s this?”
“For you to eat your words, remember? I said I’d even supply the spoon, so there it is.” He traded amused grins with Roy, then looked to the still motionless Kelly. “Well, go ahead, Chet. Start eatin’.”
Already in uniform, Chet handed the spoon back to John.
“Sorry, John babe. There’s just one problem. We didn’t agree on a time frame, remember?”
He then turned and headed toward the exit that led to the apparatus bay.
As the door closed behind him, Roy stated, “Maybe it’s better he gave that back to you. You know, so you can taste victory.”
John sat down on the edge of his open locker, the still wrapped spoon in his right hand.
“Or the agony of defeat.”
Roy couldn’t hide the surprise on his face. “I thought you said it was going great? In fact I recall the words ‘far out’ in there somewhere.”
“Oh it was. It was far out, Roy. There I was, just drivin’ around the neighborhood, the music playin’. . .I’d see a few kids come running, stop and get out. They’d buy their stuff and I’d go on till the next batch stopped me.”
“Sounds like the typical ice cream man job.”
“Uh huh. Easiest money I’d ever earned. . .till things took a little bit of a turn the third time out.”
“I thought the third time was supposed to be a charm.”
Gage blurted out a brief laugh. “Trust me, there was nothing charming about the third time.” He pulled up his left pant leg to expose a purple bruise the size of a fifty cent piece on his shin.
Roy’s eyes widened. “What happened?”
“I ran out of ice cream drumsticks and this spoiled kid let me know his displeasure. That’s nothing compared to the bruise on my right side.” He shook his head. “Never try to break up a fist fight over who gets the last cherry popsicle.” With a rub at his sore side, he added, “Man, twelve year olds can really throw some strong punches. . .too bad they tend to flail them anywhere they can land ‘um.”
“Yeah. . .but it wasn’t till a little girl who couldn’t trick. . .eeerr, sweet talk me. . . into giving her a free chocolate fudge bar stomped on my right foot, that I remembered I’m not very good with kids unless it’s a certain kinda situation; apparently salesman not being one of ‘em. In fact, I remembered I don’t particularly even like kids. Except yours of course,” he quickly added. “I just don’t think it’s gonna work out, Roy.”
“Well, it’s only been what. . .four actual days of being an ice cream truck driver. . .?”
John nodded. “Uh huh. And the fourth one had a couple of brats in it, too. To tell ya the truth, winding up in the freezer of one of those trucks doesn’t sound too bad compared to what a guy has to face otherwise.”
Roy reached over and took the spoon from the other’s hand.
“What’re ya doing?”
He held it up. “I think I may just need this while I sit back and enjoy the show when all this comes to surface with Chet.”
Gage frowned as he grumbled an unintelligible remark. If Roy had to guess, it was something about his last comment not being funny.
Later in the day Roy went into the dayroom, where he saw his partner seated alone at the table looking rather perplexed. A nearly full glass of milk was in front of him, ignored.
“So is that look because you admitted the truth to Chet or because you still can’t bring yourself to do it?”
Roy pulled out a chair and sat at the end of the table, adjacent to the younger man who was on the side closest to the stove area.
“The last one.” John glanced at him. “Man, I just don’t wanna listen to Chet go on and on about how right he was.”
With the milk still not touched, Roy reached for it. He took a sip, then offered, “Neither do I. Maybe you should give it more of a chance. You probably just hit the early bumps any novice would. I’m sure over time it’ll get better.”
John snorted a laugh, then shook his head. “I’m just not into it anymore, Roy. It just wasn’t what I expected it’d be.”
He was interrupted by the tones. The paramedics and engine crew were sent out on a multiple injuries call.
“Will ya look at that. . .” Gage said as they arrived on scene. There were three damaged vehicles, two still up against each other, in an intersection at the bottom of a small hill.
The accident had happened in a residential area where the speed limit was only thirty-five miles per hour, thus it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been around other parts of the city. But it was not a surprise there’d be numerous injuries.
As they climbed out of the squad, a police officer approached.
“We’ve got a truck that went through that fence over there, too. Smashed into a couple of vacant parked cars on the other side. One driver injured.”
He'd pointed toward a wood plank fence on one of the corners that had obviously been crashed into, part of it completely missing where the vehicle had plowed through. Numerous onlookers were standing just on the outside of a fence looking in.
“I’ll check it out,” Roy offered. He took off in that direction while John grabbed some of the equipment they’d likely need from the squad compartments.
As Captain Stanley joined Gage and the officer, the paramedic explained to his superior,
“There’s a truck through that fence over there. Roy’s got that victim. I’ll start with the sports car. Can Chet and Marco get the pickup truck and station wagon?”
The captain assigned Chet to the station wagon, Marco to the other. The men helped Gage carry some of the supplies over to the wrecked vehicles. As it turned out, there were two people from the station wagon that were likely going to be a little sore later but otherwise okay, the man in the pickup truck had a bloody lip, and the woman in the sports car was complaining of a sore chest and ribs.
Gage checked out the middle aged lady he’d expected to be a female closer to his own age given the car she was driving. Her car was damaged the worst of those in the intersection. A short time after John had been at work on her and gotten briefed from the others, the captain came up from behind to get some needed supplies for Roy’s charge.
“What’ve you got?”
“She hit her diaphragm on the steering wheel,” Gage explained. “Looks like it might just be deep bruising, but we’ll know more after she gets to Rampart. Vital signs are stable, no rigidity in the abdomen. Looks like the other three are all minor injuries. They shouldn’t require transport. How’s Roy’s situation?”
“Uh. . .slight concussion. The guy’s going to need stitches in his forehead. The truck is totaled though.”
Hank handed John a piece of paper with the victim’s vital signs on it so he could relay them to Rampart. The younger man would also report that pressure bandages would be applied to the wound, as well as the information regarding the mild concussion.
“He’s lucky. At least trucks can be replaced,” Gage said.
“Yeah, he’s also lucky he’s not going to have to be the one to do it.”
“It’s a company truck. He said the brakes failed.”
John reported everything to Rampart over the biophone, following the instructions given afterward for the treatment of his patient. The captain had jotted down the instructions given for Roy’s victim, then headed back toward the fence with the necessary supplies in hand.
A short time later, Gage stepped back when the ambulance attendants came up to the sports car with a stretcher. They and Marco helped him get her out of the car and onto the stretcher, being careful of the IV in her left arm.
Roy and Chet had carried the head injury victim on a stretcher kept with the squad to the waiting ambulance, where he was placed on the bench seat. John’s victim would be between the benches. The less seriously injured were advised to see their own family doctors if any issues arose.
Roy offered to ride in with the two in the ambulance. Once he was on his way, Chet turned to face John.
“Hey, did Roy or Cap mention anything about the truck to you?”
John shrugged. “Just that it was totaled.”
“Yeah, well you may wanna check it out before ya leave.”
“Check it out? Whataya mean check it out? Chet, I’ve seen plentya wrecked trucks.”
“Yeah, but you might just find this one a little more interesting then most.”
He narrowed his eyes to squints. “Why?”
Chet motioned for him to follow, but slowed as they approached the open gap in the fence so Gage would be ahead of him. He didn’t want to miss the reaction.
The dark-haired paramedic’s lower jaw went slack. “What the. . .oh man!”
“Didn’t I tell ya you would find it a little more interesting?”
“Yeah. You weren’t kiddin’.”
There in front of him was a totaled ice cream truck. Not just any ice cream truck either.
“That’s my truck!”
As soon as John and Roy had gotten back to the station, Chet approached the dark-haired paramedic, barely giving him time to exit from the passenger side of the squad.
“Since you had to leave without explaining everything to me, how ‘bout ya do it now?”
John shut the truck door, letting go of it as it closed.
“Can I get a cup of coffee first?”
“Oh, all right. . .”
Roy had already been filled in by his partner, thus didn’t need to hear it all again. He shook his head at the two on the other side of the squad, then headed for the dayroom to get a cup of coffee for himself. Wrapped up in their own conversation, neither of the other two men noticed his absence, nor the flat little wooden spoon he’d just placed on the hood of the vehicle.
“So you left me with it being your truck.”
“That’s right, Chet. It was my truck. I recognized the license plate.”
“How could it be yours if that other guy was driving it?”
“It wasn’t mine as in mine.”
“That clears things up,” came a sarcastic reply.
“I mean, I didn’t own it. I didn’t buy it. It’s just the one I’d been driving for the same business.”
“So that could’ve been you. . .through a fence. . .is what you’re saying.”
John nodded. “That’s exactly what I’m sayin’. Which means you were right.” He shrugged. “You were right, Chet. You said the odds of an accident happening to me in the truck were high. You were right.”
“But it didn’t happen to you. It happened to your truck, but not with you in it.” Chet shook his head. “I believe that makes you right.”
Gage knew he could. . .probably should . . .tell Chet about the bratty kids and his ‘war’ wounds from them. But with the truck wrecked, he had an excuse to quit driving without ever having to bring them up. None of it would ever have to come up in a conversation again if he just ended it now.
Besides that, it wasn’t often Chet gave in to his being correct on something.
Who needs a guitar or ice cream truck? He thought to himself.
Chet’s words were music enough to his ears. It didn’t even matter that he wouldn’t be making any money off of them.
This was inspired when I saw the episode on METV recently. :o)
*Click above to send Audrey feedbaack