By Audrey W.
August 28th, 1973
“Hey, happy birthday,” Roy greeted his partner when John Gage came into the locker room.
“Thanks,” came a pleased reply.
Gage stepped over to his locker two down from Roy’s, while the latter continued to get changed into uniform. The two paramedics were about to start a new shift at Station 51, unfortunately for John, on his special day.
Gage was halfway dressed in uniform, his trousers next to be changed, when another member of their crew came strolling into the locker room from the dorm entrance. Chet Kelly was already set for roll call having arrived sooner, but couldn’t let the moment of opportunity to test John’s patience slip by.
“So, how’s the birthday boy?”
John screwed up his face. “Boy? Chet, I’m twenty-four years old, ya know. I’m pretty sure I outgrew that phrase years ago,” he snickered.
The engine crew member placed his hands on the counter near the sinks, his back toward them, then pushed down as he hopped up to take a seat facing the paramedics.
“By the calendar, sure,” he admitted. “But on the inside. . .” He shook his head.
“Whataya mean ‘no’?” John asked indignantly.
“Let’s just say the name ‘John Boy’ fits you better than the TV character on The Waltons.”
With his uniform trousers now on, John took one step toward his antagonizer. “What? Chet, I am not a boy by any stretch of the imagination.”
Chet glanced at Roy before continuing with, “Oh yeah?”
Following Chet’s lead, John briefly looked at Roy, then replied to Kelly, “Yeah.”
Roy just wondered why either had to eye him first. He wasn’t so sure Johnny even had any idea why he did.
“I don’t know about that, John Boy.”
The irritation increased in Gage’s voice with, “Would you stop calling me that?”
“Sure, Sonny Boy.”
John took one more step forward. “Chet!”
“Obviously not to be confused with ‘Sunny Boy’, as in spelled with a u,” he said to Roy. “That’s for sure.”
Gage’s eyes narrowed to slits.
Chet hopped off the counter and started for the door that led to the apparatus bay.
“Well, I see I’ve worn out my welcome here. See ya at roll call, Buddy Boy.”
John remained silent, his mouth agape, eyes still narrowed. The dark-haired paramedic and his partner watched as Chet left, the door closing behind him.
John made a sour face and mocked what Chet had said last, mouthing the words, but not saying them out loud.
When they both were fully in uniform, Roy motioned for John to follow him out to the bay.
“C’mon, birthday boy,” he said with a smile.
“Ah man, not you, too, now.”
John grumbled under his breath as they exited the room, him already making a mental note to ask for August 28th 1974 off.
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