Disclaimer: The characters of Emergency! belong to Mark VII Productions and Universal Studios.
Not Your Usual Gift
“Mommy, what time will Uncle Johnny be here to take us Daddy’s Day shopping?” Jennifer Desoto asked her mother for the umpteenth time.
Smiling at her daughter‘s name change for Father‘s Day she told her once again. “Jenny, honey, I told you as soon as he finishes doing some errands.”
“Well how long will it be until he’s finished?” a persistent Jennifer wanted to know.
Not wanting to show her frustration with her daughter, Joanne said, “Uncle Johnny will be here when he can. Now why don’t you be a good little girl and go watch Scooby Doo?”
“Ok, Mommy, I love Scooby.” The five year old headed for the living room to watch TV.
No sooner than Jennifer had exited the kitchen, Chris blew through the back door and asked the same question as his younger sister.
“Like I just told Jenny, Uncle Johnny will be here when he can. Now go wash up so you’ll be ready when he does get here,” She said with much constraint.
“Yes Ma’am,” Chris said heading off to do his mother bidding, wanting to be ready so they could leave as soon as his Uncle Johnny got there.
“I hope Johnny knows what he volunteered for.” Joanne mumbled to herself.
Tomorrow was the third Sunday of the month of June, Father’s Day. It helped that Johnny had so graciously volunteered to take the kids shopping. With Roy pulling an extra shift at Station 86, this would give her the time she needed to go to the store and pick up the items that were needed for the dinner she had planned.
Meanwhile, Johnny Gage was in his Land Rover on his way over to the DeSotos' house, not really knowing how he got roped into this little shopping trip. Thinking back on his last day off, the answer was evident. Two little rug rats had hornswoggled him into it. Not that he minded, he loved Roy’s kids as much as if they were his own.
As Johnny continued to drive, he thought back at how he became Uncle Johnny. From the time he met Christopher DeSoto, he had been dubbed Uncle Johnny to the blue eyed, blond hair two year old by his partner Roy. He loved the title and lived up to it. When Jennifer came along a year later, he was a goner. Right after Joanne delivered her, he was invited into her hospital room for the introduction of Jennifer Lynn DeSoto and was allowed to be the first person besides her parents to hold the tiny bundle of joy. At that moment, he could feel the happiness his best friend was feeling, the happiness that he suspected only a father could feel. Even though he wasn’t her father, they had a bond and he knew he was going to be proud to have the small wonder call him Uncle.
Bringing himself back to the present, Johnny noticed he was almost to his destination. When he pulled up in front of the DeSoto home, he saw the door burst open and saw the lights of his eye came barreling over the threshold. Chris and Jennifer ran down the walk toward him. Bracing himself for the whirlwind that would greet him as soon as he emerged from the Rover, Johnny opened the door and got out.
Chris reached him first, both kids screeched in unison, greeting their Uncle with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Stooping down, Johnny picked up Jenny in his arms and twirled her around. Chris had out grown being swung in the air and settled for a rub on his head that he deemed more grown-up.
Making a move to go toward the house, Johnny asked, “Where’s your Mom?”
“She’s in the kitchen, making lunch!” Chris said.
“Well then, let’s go see what’s for lunch!” Johnny said as they headed toward the house.
When Johnny, Chris and Jennifer went into the house, Johnny was greeted by Joanne with a hug. She told everyone that lunch was ready and to go wash up, even Johnny.
After eating a lunch of chicken salad sandwiches and Kool Aid, the kids got ready for their shopping trip while Johnny helped Joanne clean up the kitchen.
“Well, Johnny, what do you have planned for this afternoon?” Joanne inquired.
“I thought we’d go to one of these unique stores that specialize in odd gifts. Roy would probably appreciate a gift that wasn’t a tie or cologne for a change.”
“Jenny still wants him to wear the tie they bought him last year on the occasions that he needs to dress up, like weddings, church, funerals….”
“Man, I don’t know how Roy does it. Wearing a Mickey Mouse tie to a funeral all to make his little girl happy. Now that I think about it, I don’t ever remember him wearing that tie.”
“He hasn’t, well at least not in public. He’d have it on when we’d leave, but change when we got out to the car. She’s none the wiser that he didn’t wear it all the time.”
“I was wondering, I know I have a hard time saying no to those two, you know?”
“I know, but it’s different when you’re a parent, no is a word you learn to use with them at an early age. It’s harder on you because you’re their favorite uncle that spoils them rotten and you don’t want to come off being a bad guy,” Joanne said giving him a slight smile.
Smiling now himself, all he could say was, “Yeah, I guess you‘re right.”
Before the conversation could go any further, the kids rushed back into the kitchen, clean and ready to go.
There was a delay in their leaving due to Chris and Jennifer arguing about who got to ride up front with Uncle Johnny. Chris had won out this time, but Jennifer let him know that she got to ride in the front seat on the way home.
Johnny parked the Rover in front of the door to the store he had in mind.
“Where are we going, Uncle Johnny, this isn’t G.C. Murphy’s?” Chris asked knowing this wasn’t the store they usually went shopping at.
“Well, guys, I thought we’d try something different this year. The store has a lot of unusual types of gifts. Things you wouldn’t find at Murphy’s. What do you think?” Johnny tried to sound excited in hopes his plan would work.
“What’s the stores name, Uncle Johnny?” Jennifer wondered.
“The Odyssey Shop. It’s gonna be great guys, you’ll see,” Johnny coaxed wanting them to give it a try.
“If we don’t find daddy a good gift here, can we go to Murphy’s?” Chris asked, not really thinking they would find anything suitable for their dad in this new store. It probably didn’t even have a good selection of cologne or ties like the other store. You can’t find a big bottle of High Karate just any old place or the great ties their dad loved so much.
“Of course we can. Let’s just give this place a try.” Knowing he’d worn them down, Johnny got out of the car and walked around to help his charges out.
When they entered the air conditioned store, the colors were the first thing that was noticeable. “It’s so pretty, look at all the different things. What is all this stuff?” Jenny asked.
Johnny looked around and wasn’t really sure how to answer that question, instead of doing so he said, “Let’s look around and see what we can find.”
They walked through the story looking for the “perfect” Father’s Day gift. Stopping at a counter that displayed brightly colored packages, the kid’s thought that is was candy. Upon further examination, Johnny tried to steer the kids clear of the counter and any questions they may ask him.
“Why don’t we get Dad some of that candy, it looks good.” Chris said.
“Yeah, I like candy, so I know Daddy will.” Jennifer added her two cents.
“I don’t think your dad would want candy for Father’s Day. Let’s look around for something else.” Johnny hoped that was all that he needed to say to get the kids to forget about the “candy” that wasn’t really candy. Johnny shuddered as he pictured the look that would be on Roy's face as he opened the package of editable underwear.
Moving on through the store, they came across a patriot display of ties and such commemorating the bi-centennial year.
“Wow! Look at all those ties!” Chris said excitedly.
“Yeah, Daddy loves the ties we get him. What’s this other stuff?” Jenny asked.
“Well, it looks like underwear.” Johnny timidly said hoping this wasn’t going the way it seemed to be going.
“It’s pretty, I want to get Daddy this.” Jennifer held up a package that was in a red, white and blue box that said Yankee Doodle Underwear.
“Yeah, and I’ll get him this tie, it’s way cool,” Chris piped up.
“Are you sure you want to buy your dad these gifts?”
“Oh yes, Uncle Johnny, these will be perfect.”
“Yeah, the bestest gifts ever,” Jenny squealed.
All of a sudden, a rendition of The Star Spangled Banner began to play. Looking around for the source of the music, Johnny realized it was coming from the box Jennifer held tightly in her hands.
“Uncle Johnny, Uncle Johnny, do you hear, my present plays music.” Jennifer jumped up and down delighted with the added feature.
Panic was the emotion that John wore on his handsome face, sheer panic. What was he going to do? Jenny had her heart set on buying the musical underwear for Roy, but Roy would probably kill him for letting her buy the boxers. He weighted his options; either have Roy upset with him or have Jenny hate him. His choice was an easy decision once he thought it over. After looking around a few more minutes, they made their way to the check -out counter to pay for their purchases.
The woman behind the counter was in her early twenties. When she made eye contact with John, he gave her a smile that had melted many hearts. She rang up the tie and then picked up the box that contained Jen’s present and grinned. She looked a John and gave him a wink, all the while licking her lips. Johnny was a little uncomfortable with this open display of flirting. If the kids weren’t there, now that would’ve been a different situation, but they were there. He was polite, yet not overly. He paid for the purchases, and they left.
Sunday morning, Father’s Day at the DeSoto house was a big deal. Joanne made Roy breakfast in bed, with the kids helping to bring the food and his newspaper up to him. Wishing him a good morning and I love you’s with kisses and hugs, they left him to enjoy the solitude.
Johnny was expected for dinner around four that afternoon. It had been a long standing tradition that John Gage be at their home, when possible, for holidays and special occasions. He was a part of their family. Presents wouldn’t be opened until after dinner, that rule was on Father’s Day only, it was done this way the help savor the day.
At four o’clock exactly, John arrived at the DeSotos', carrying a bottle of wine. It was his gift to Roy and Joanne for including him in their family time.
They sat down to a feast of fish, salad, homemade rolls and artichokes, Roy’s favorite vegetable and homemade peach pie was dessert, topped off with French Vanilla Ice Cream.
After the table had been cleared, they all gathered in the living room for the gift presentations. Chris was first, offering a package wrapped in shinny silver foil, decorated with a tied-on bow.
“Thank you, Chris. I wonder what this could be?” Roy said knowing good and well it was another tie.
“Hurry, Dad, open it up.” Chris jumped up and down excitedly.
“Ok, give me a minute. Wow, would you look at this. Jo, have you seen anything sooooo patriot?”
With a little giggle, Jo shook her head no, not trusting herself to speak.
“Do you like it Dad? Since it’s the bi… what did you call it Uncle Johnny?”
“Bi-Centennial?” Johnny supplied.
“Yeah, what he said, I thought it would be extra special.”
“Oh, it is. I love it, son, thank you. Come here and give me a hug.”
Chris walked over to Roy and gave him not only a hug but a kiss on his cheek, shocking Roy. Such show of affection was not common for the eight year old, especially in front of other people.
With Chris’s present over with, Jennifer couldn’t wait any longer.
“Now it’s my turn, Daddy,” Jennifer piped up.
“Ok, Sweetheart, let’s see what could be wrapped up in this pretty paper.”
Roy’s curiosity was getting the better of him, he could tell this wasn’t his normal High Karate cologne. Unwrapping the box he sat silently staring at what was enfolded within the paper. He looked over at his partner and ex- best friend with an I’m going to kill you look on his face.
“Show everybody what I got you, Daddy,” Jenny said thrilled with her choice.
Roy held up the box that said Yankee Doodle Underwear. On the back of the box it had a slogan that read “Guaranteed to make you stand at attention and be saluted” after reading this to himself his face was even redder.
“What’s up, Roy?” Johnny was dumbfounded by his friends reaction. It was just a pair of American Flag Underwear, no big deal, the kids had got him some Big Bird and Snuffleupagus boxers for Christmas and it didn’t bother him the way these seemed to bother Roy.
Upon further reading, Roy discovered that this was a new product. What Johnny thought was a simple pair of boxers was actually something called a thong. Taking it out of the box, Roy held up the small piece of cloth that had a elastic band, nothing else. He grimaced thinking how this contraption was to be worn and the permanent wedgie he would be sporting if he did wear this slingshot.
Embarrassment was on John’s, Joanne’s and Roy’s faces at the unmentionable, that they silently agreed not to mention. Not knowing what else to do, Roy turned to Jennifer and gave her a hug and a kiss.
“Do you like it?” was the innocent question the little angel asked.
“I love it, honey. Thank you so much,” Roy choked out.
“It plays music, too.” Jenny said thrilled with the hidden feature.
Roy was shell shocked. Not only did he have an American Flag slingshot for underwear but it played music. Pressing the waistband, the sound of the Star Spangled Banner began playing. Chris stood up and placed his right hand over his heart. Bringing more hushed laughter from Joanne and Johnny.
“Are you going to wear them, like you do the ties and other stuff we buy you?” His daughter questioned.
“I don’t really know.” Roy tried to put her off.
“I know when you can wear them Dad.” Chris was helping out.
“Chris, I don’t think….”
“You can wear them on the Fourth of July, that’s a holiday that we fly the flag and celebrate being Americans, besides it our country‘s two hundredth birthday.” Chris finished.
“Yeah, Daddy. Will you wear them on the Fourth of July?” Jennifer looked at him with hopeful eyes.
Not able to say no, Roy conceded to wear his present on the upcoming holiday. He also made a silent promise to kill Johnny.
Or Is It?
Thanks to Jean for the beta read and Audrey for the idea.
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