Bag Boy by Marty P.
Paper Or. . .
By Audrey W.
“Where’ve you been?” A usually quiet Mike Stoker wondered as Chet Kelly sauntered up to the engine. Marco Lopez, Roy DeSoto and John Gage paused in their work and waited for the explanation.
The three lower ranking engine crew members and two paramedics were directed by their captain to clean and polish the vehicles in the apparatus bay while he caught up on paperwork. However Chet had disappeared on the others somewhere between the instructions and starting the chore.
The curly-haired fireman kept his hands behind his back and eyed each man as he defended himself.
“Where’ve I been?”
“That’s what we want to know,” Marco stated.
“Well, remember I told you guys I found a new investment?”
“Like what? A new book on how to get out of doing your job and sticking your co-workers with it?” Johnny snickered.
“No, but if you see that book somewhere, lemme know, would ya?”
Roy was genuinely curious. “So what is the investment?”
“Finally someone who gives me some credit.”
“We’re all given ya credit,” Johnny said as he leaned his right shoulder against the squad, a dust rag still in his hand. “For now.”
With the others watching, Chet brought his hands forward, a folded brown paper bag in his right. He carefully opened it and held it in both his palms.
“It’s an empty sack.”
“Au contraire, Johnny boy. It only looks like an empty sack.”
The paramedic rolled his eyes. “Right. It looks like one because it is.”
“Don’t you guys get it?”
“I don’t think we do,” Roy said as he returned to wiping down the squad. “Maybe you should explain it.”
Chet sighed. “Barry over at 116’s told me his brother’s neighbor heard that one of these days, paper bags are gonna be obsolete. That everyone’s gonna be using plastic bags instead.”
“Plastic? You mean like this. . .” Johnny said as he touched the top edge of the bag. Chet jerked it away as the paramedic finished with, “. . .only a hard plastic?”
“No, I mean like a real thin plastic, that you can ball up and toss out when it’s empty. That’s what he said.”
“Who said? Barry? Or Barry’s brother or his friend?” The sarcasm in Gage’s voice was obvious.
“Don’t believe me, but I’m tellin’ ya, one of these days, brown paper bags are gonna be hard to come by.”
“No way, Chet.” Marco shook his head as he turned toward the engine with his dust cloth in his hand.
“How can something that flimsy hold groceries and stuff? Heck, the cans’ll roll right out. ‘Sides, how’re you gonna carry the bags? They’d hafta have handles or somethin’.” The look on Chet’s face told Johnny he’d just guessed the answer. “Uh uh. Won’t ever happen.” He looked at Roy, who had stopped his work again and was listening to the conversation. “What would Joanne say about her groceries rollin’ out all over the back of the station wagon?”
“She’d have a fit.”
“There. Ya see? Women know what they want, and they don’t want plastic bags for their groceries. Roy said so.”
The senior paramedic looked surprised at Johnny's statement, wondering exactly when he'd said that.
Chet glanced at Mike, who’d remained silent since the unveiling of the paper bag. “So what do you think? Am I on to something, or is John right?”
“I plead the fifth.”
“Smart man,” Roy mumbled as he once again continued with his work.
“All I know is that I’ve got my stash of paper bags,” the curly-haired fireman stated as he folded his prize. “And when they disappear from the stores, people are gonna be lookin’ for ‘em. It happens with everything that gets replaced.”
“Chet, all’s they gotta do is cut down more trees and make more paper. Those bags’ll always be around.”
“Haven’t you heard of environmentalists?”
Johnny just sighed and joined Roy in wiping down the squad. “Next thing he’ll be telling us is that ‘Rock-Paper-Scissors’ is gonna be an international sport some day.”
As he headed for his VW bus in the rear lot to return his paper bag for safe keeping, Chet gave the dark-haired paramedic’s remark thought. I wonder if Barry’s brother’s neighbor knows anything about that. . .
Note: I know paper bags are still around, but Chet wouldn’t know that then…lol And no offense to the Rock-Paper-Scissor participants. But the recent crowning of a champ gave me a way to end this story. :o)
Brown Bagging It by E!lf
Hey, What’s in the Bag?
By: Vanessa Sgroi
“Hey, Gage, what’s in the bag?”
“Nothing for you, Kelly.”
“Ah, c’mon, what’s in the bag?”
Hearing the locker room door open, Chet glanced up to see who was entering.
“Hey, Roy—tell Johnny to tell me what’s in the bag.”
DeSoto looked from Chet to his partner and back again and ruefully shook his head. “Is there anything you two won’t argue about?”
The mustached fireman just shook his head then nodded, obviously unsure how to answer the question.
“Geez, I was just curious. It’s all good, man.”
Roy opened his locker and began to shrug out of his shirt. “I bet I know what’s in the bag.”
Johnny gripped the oversized paper bag tightly and gave Chet the stink-eye.
“Johnny, why don’t you just tell him?”
Gage’s focus shifted to Roy.
“Yeah,” echoed Chet, “why don’t you just tell me? Save the Phantom some trouble.”
“Just . . . just because he’s . . . nosy,” muttered the dark-haired paramedic.
“NOSY? I . . . I’m not NOSY! You’re the one who’s . . .”
Rolling his eyes, Roy answered, “Relax, Chet. It’s just candy.”
Startled, Gage squinted at him.
“How’d you know?”
DeSoto held up his own, much smaller, paper sack and shook it.
“Halloween. Kids. Party. It wasn’t a huge mental leap,” Roy laughed.
“You mean that’s all you got in that huge bag? Candy?” snorted Chet.
“Ha! Not just any candy, Chet, I got the good stuff!”
Johnny dumped the contents of his bag on the bench.
“Man, look at all that!” Kelly chortled reverently, “You bought too much.”
“I did not.”
“Did too! Look at all this stuff. Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, mint. How many kids do you think will be here—500?”
“Oh, go away, Chet.”
“I’m just sayin’ . . .”
“It’s called variety, Chet. Var-i-ety.”
“Can I have a piece?”
Incensed, Chet muttered, “It’s not like you don’t have enough.”
“Okay, fine. One piece and only one piece!” he growled.
While Chet was hemming and hawing over what piece of chocolate to choose, Roy finished tying his boots and slipped out of the locker room, leaving the two men to their bickering. The enticing scent of coffee automatically pulled him toward the kitchen.
“Hurry up, Chet! Pick something!”
Finally, Kelly picked a peanut butter cup, unwrapped the candy, and popped it into his mouth.
“Mmmm . . .”
“Okay, you’ve had your piece of candy. Now get outta here so I can get ready for roll call.”
Johnny watched the other man leave the room and then scooped all of the loose candy back into the paper bag. Making sure he was still alone in the locker room, he quickly found a hiding place to stash the candy—away from Chet’s sticky fingers.
Whistling, he finished changing into his uniform and rushed out of the room to line up for roll call.
The morning remained fairly quiet for the crew of Station 51, with the paramedics responding to two minor aid calls and the engine responding once to a trash fire. Typically on Halloween, they’d get really busy just after dark, and they’d stay busy throughout the night. The crew used the quiet time to get the day room set up and decorated for the “Community Outreach for Kids” Halloween party. Marco was in charge of making the food; Stoker the games and prizes.
Periodically throughout the morning, Johnny slipped into the locker room and checked his stash, pulling the bag out and shaking it before tucking it back away, confident Chet was behaving himself.
About a half hour before the kids were due to arrive, the men started to set out the food. Seeing Roy dump his candy into a plastic pumpkin, Johnny figured it was safe to bring out his contribution to the party. He grabbed the bag from its hiding place and took it into the kitchen where a giant plastic orange bowl waited. Upending the bag over the bowl, Johnny was shocked to see a pile of rocks and pebbles tumble into the bowl instead of the candy he expected.
“CHET! CHET, I’M GONNA GET YOU FOR THIS!”
Grabbing the evidence, Johnny went in search of his nemesis.
Rounding the corner, he nearly mowed down his partner.
“Roy, where’s Chet? Look! Look what he did!” Johnny pushed the bowl of rocks into Roy’s stomach.
DeSoto grunted. “I see, I see. Just don’t take it out on me!”
“Where is he? CHET!”
“Johnny, calm down. We have time. We can just go to the store and get more.”
“Oh, no! I’M not buying more. That little sneak can just give me the money to get more. KELLY, WHERE ARE YOU?”
The door to the bunk room opened.
“Johnny, Roy,” intoned Captain Stanley, “you might just want to look in here.”
The paramedics followed the captain into the bunk room where they heard loud groaning from one of the beds. They followed the noise and discovered a rather green-looking Chet curled up in a ball.
“Chet, you ATE all that candy you took?” stuttered Johnny.
The other man moaned.
“No wonder you have a stomach ache.”
“I only took a piece at a time,” he said, “I’d take a piece and leave a rock so you wouldn’t know I’d found your hiding place.”
“Well, I need to go get more so give me some money,” Johnny said, not unsympathetically.
Taking a deep breath, Chet sat up and immediately turned a shade greener. “My wallet’s in my locker. Grab some money out of there.” Clapping a hand over his mouth, he jumped up and dashed for the restroom.
Roy and Johnny headed out of the room. Looking over his shoulder, Roy said, “Cap, we’ll take a look at him when we get back if he’s not feeling any better.”
At Kelly’s locker, Gage grabbed the man’s wallet and looked inside. As he was reaching for some cash, a picture spiraled to the floor. Picking it up, he whistled.
“Hey, Roy, look at this! Who do you think she is?” Johnny showed him the photo of a curvaceous blonde.
Tucking the photo back in the wallet, Gage murmured “Man, she’s a great lookin’ chick. Think Chet has been holding out on us?”
“Could be. C’mon, let’s go get that candy. The kids will be here soon.”
“I wonder if she’s dating him? I can’t believe someone as hot as her would date him. Where would he have met her? Why wouldn’t he tell us about her? I wonder if it’s serious . . .”
It was all Roy could do not to run to the squad and lock himself inside. It was going to be a long and noisy trip to the grocery store.
<O>^<O> The End <O>^<O>
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