A/N: This was suppose to be posted on April Fools day but life and a flood in my basement decided otherwise. So here it is. A little late. Hope you enjoy it. As always feedback is welcome at email@example.com
And again a HUGE Thank you to Sandy who showed grace under pressure when I sent the story at the last minute to be betaed. She corrected my many mistakes and I am very grateful for it. I love you girl.
DISCLAIMER: Four firemen came to my house to pump out some water....Unfortunately Johnny was not amongst them, and neither were any of the other guys. Pity.
THE DAY THE PIGEON GOT HIS REVENGE
“Chettttt! You little....’. The rest was lost in a muttered string of curse words.
Roy DeSoto winced when he heard the bellowing voice of his partner and best friend, John Gage. And if Roy read it right, Johnny had surely fallen for one of Chet Kelly, aka The Phantom, pranks. It didn’t take long for a very angry, very wet paramedic to come storming into the kitchen, where all the men of Station 51 were drinking their morning cups of coffee.
Not only was Johnny very wet, he was also very green. Small blobs of what looked like slime were dripping from his hair onto the collar of his shirt, leaving a green path on the once pristine blue shirt. Everyone was trying very hard not to laugh at the sorry sight their handsome colleague was now offering. They didn’t want to add insult to injury.
But Chet didn’t have such any qualms about it.
“Well, Johnny. You should have told us that you were trying for a new job. Tell us...Does it pay well to play leprechaun?” asked the stocky fireman in a mocking tone.
Johnny took a step closer to Chet and shook his head, sending some of the green slime onto the other man’s uniform. Kelly just jumped from his chair to put some distance between the dripping paramedic and himself.
“Hey! Watch it, Gage!’
Hank Stanley decided to stop the bickering before it got out of control.
“John, go shower. I’m gonna stand down the squad for fifteen minutes. Kelly, clean that mess here and wherever else John may have dripped. Ya twit!”
Chet rolled his eyes at Gage’s smug smile. “But Cap...”., he whined, trying to gain the sympathy of his captain. But Cap’s glare stopped him short.
“You caused the mess, you clean it. Oh and you have latrine duty for the week..”
Chet just nodded, thinking that a week of latrine duty wasn’t so bad. It could have been a month. He silently went to the closet to retrieve what he needed to clean the floor.
“I need to find a way to repay Chet!”, Johnny said while changing into a clean uniform. Fortunately, the green slime hadn’t left any traces on his skin. He paced while Roy just watched him venting. He was used to John’s outburst and knew that it was better to keep silent. No need to add fuel to a raging fire.
Gage turned toward his partner and smiled.
“You’re gonna help me!”
Roy DeSoto raised his hands in protest. “Oh no! Leave me out of your little war with Chet. I’m not gonna be the target of his pranks, which is exactly what will happen if I help you..”
The dark-haired paramedic frowned in displeasure. “Thanks a lot, partner!”
Roy just shrugged. “You better leave it alone. You know that you can’t win against the phantom”, he said, following his friend and partner to the kitchen.
Johnny just snorted. All the men looked at him, eyebrow raised. Chet just smiled at his favorite pigeon. He loved it when a prank was a success. It was done in the spirit of fun, of course. Too bad Johnny wasn’t sharp enough to outsmart the Phantom.
Gage poured himself and his partner a cup of coffee. He watched the stocky fireman with narrowed eyes.
“You just wait Chet. I’m gonna get you. I’ll make you miserable. You won’t know what hit you. I’m gonna out smart the Phantom!” he said in a confident voice.
Kelly just laughed. “In your dreams Gage. If YOU out smart me, I will bow before you at the next department picnic. I’ll even take the mike to tell the whole department what a great prankster you are. ”
Johnny smiled and offered his hand. “You’re on!”
Chet shook his head.” And since you won’t out smart me, what are you gonna do when I win? Lets set the deadline for April Fool’s day.”
The paramedic bit his lip for a moment but couldn’t come up with anything. “I’ll tell you what. If you win, which you won’t, you pick your reward.”
Chet couldn’t believe his ears. And neither could Roy. What the hell was his partner up to? The blond paramedic knew, by experience, that Johnny was seldom the winner in their little war. And usually Roy was the one paying for the joke. A cranky Johnny was not pleasant when you had to pull a 24 hour shift with him. He decided to voice his concern.
“Uh....Johnny, are you sure you know what you’re doing? We all know how it will turn out and giving Chet the choice of your...punishment isn’t wise”.
Gage couldn’t believe how little his partner believed in him. He shook his head. “You wait and see. And if you’re not with me, you’re against me! So you better watch out! You better watch out!”
He left the kitchen to go to the locker room, where he would find peace and quiet to think about the best way to get Chet. The guys were bewildered by their friends reaction. Except for Chet who had a smug smile on his lips. It promised to be an interesting couple of days...
“Good morning guys!”
Chet Kelly entered the kitchen with a big smile on his face. Today was the first day of his pigeon’s war against the Phantom and he was waiting in anticipation to see how Gage would manage to screw up. He had no doubt that Johnny couldn’t pull a prank, even to save his life.
“Morning Chet!” they all replied with the exception of Johnny who just continued to read the paper.
The stocky fireman looked at Gage with a grin. “What? No good morning from you, Johnny baby?”
Johnny lifted his eyes from the paper and just looked smugly at Chet. He knew better than to take the bait. If he was to win this war, he needed to get his emotions in check.
Chet was about to speak again when a gag noise started all the men.
Roy DeSoto spit his coffee and tried very hard not to choke due to his coughing. After a while, he caught his breath and shot Chet a murderous glare. “For Pete’s sake Chet! Can’t we at least have a morning coffee without being poisoned?”
Kelly’s jaw dropped. Roy actually thought that he would do that...Okay he probably would have, but this time he wasn’t the culprit.
“Me? I didn’t do anything!” He looked at his crew mates, who were sporting skeptic looks on their faces. Now Chet felt obligated to defend himself.
“I swear I didn’t do anything to the coffee!”
“It tastes like sewage water”, said Roy with a disgusted look. Marco, Mike and Cap suspiciously sniffed the contents of their mugs and even though they couldn’t detect anything in particular, they didn’t take any chances and threw the liquid in the sink. Cap did the same with the rest of the pot.
Except for Johnny, who took a sip from his mug and made a sound of appreciation.
DeSoto’s eyes narrowed and he walked toward his partner and soon to be ex best friend if he, like Roy suspected, was the culprit of this little joke.
“You did this?”
Johnny looked at his partner with an innocent face. He spread his hand on his chest and looked indignant. Or tried to look indignant. “Me? You think I could pull such a prank? Little old me?”, he said in a mock tone.
Chet glared at the dark-haired paramedic. Go figure! Gage had actually pulled a prank. Not very imaginative, but he got points for trying.
Roy shook his head. “What’s wrong with you?”
Johnny just shrugged. “I told you. If you’re not with me, you’re against me. All is fair in war.”
The blond paramedic just laughed softly. “Does that mean that it’s safe to be near you now? I’m off the hook?”, his tone was playful, letting know Johnny that everything was fine.
Johnny smiled at his friend. “Yeah. YOU’re off the hook.” But he looked at the rest of the crew and took aim with his finger at each and every one of them, the last one being Chet. Then he stood up and walked toward the mustached fireman.
“You want my coffee, Chester B”?”
He left the kitchen with a laugh. All the men looked at Chet with pity. The fireman frowned. He didn’t like the look on his friend’s faces. He wasn’t afraid of Johnny. The man couldn’t out do the Phantom. Roy was gullible and never knew what hit him. But not him. Not Chester B Kelly. Johnny wouldn’t be able to touch him, even with a ten foot pole...
The night had been a quiet one. Which was a blessing after the hectic day the crew of 51 had. So, when the morning tones rang, all the guys were well rested. They walked to the kitchen and Marco rushed to make a pot of coffee, not wanting a repeat of yesterday’s morning’s mess.
“Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” Johnny walked into the kitchen with a swagger in his walk. He smiled at his crew mates. “Want me to cook breakfast?”
“NO!”, a chorus of voices answered him.
The tall paramedic just shrugged and sat down at the table. Chet was on the couch with Henry on his lap. He intended to keep some distance between himself and Gage. Not that he was afraid, but Johnny could be blessed with the beginner’s luck. So just to be on the safe side...
Mike sat next to Johnny and they shared the morning paper. Suddenly the engineer looked at Hank Stanley.
“Hey Cap? Don’t forget. You told me you would lend me your tool box. I have some minor repairs to do on my car and my neighbor hasn’t returned my tool kit yet.”, Mike said without pausing, which caused the other men to look at him with interest. Seeing that he was the center of attention, Stoker ducked his head in embarrassment. Cap took pity on his engineer. “Sure Mike. Lets go get it right now.”
Mike followed Hank Stanley to the parking lot. Both men sniffed the air around. There was an unusual scent in the air and both men checked around to find the source. As they walked toward Cap’s car the smell got stronger. The engineer was the first to spot the open cooler on the back seat of the car. His face turned white and he frightenedly looked at the captain. Hank followed his engineer’s gaze and cursed under his breath. “ Son of a ...Chester B Kelly!”
Inside the firehouse, all the men were startled by the bellowing of their captain. He sounded angry. They didn’t have time to wonder about anything. Stanley walked right in with a furious look on his face. He was red and breathing hard. They could see a little vein beating on his forehead.
“Is this your idea of a joke?”
Kelly opened his eyes wide. He looked around and could see that the guys were waiting for his answer.
“What are you talking about Cap?”, he asked in his best subdued voice. No need to antagonize the already angry captain.
Hank’s nostrils flared under his anger. He could throttle the Irishman.
“The very big cooler on the back seat of my car”.
Chet shook his head. “What cooler?”
The dark-haired captain started to pace, trying to keep some semblance of control. “The cooler full of fish...very smelly fish. That’s what I’m talking about!”
“It wasn’t me Cap! I swear I didn’t do it!”, Chet protested. But damn!, that was a good one!
Hank stopped pacing. “Well if you didn’t do it, who did?”
All the men turned to look at Johnny who just smiled at them. He aimed at his captain and winked. Hank almost choked at the bold move. And so did Chet.
“Well ya little twit! I should give you latrine duty for at least three months! And you better get that disgusting cooler out of my car!”
Chet watched the paramedic with glee. Yes! Latrine duty free for three months for Chester B Kelly! A smug smile lifted the corner of his lips. Ah! That’ll teach you, Gage, he thought.
Johnny stood up, nonplussed, and just smiled at his captain. “Look at it this way, Cap. At least now you can breath easy. You’re not a target anymore.”
He left the room, whistling. Hank watched him go with a pensive look.
“He’s not wrong you know”. Roy DeSoto’s quiet comment cut the silence of the room. “What do you say we put some distance between ourselves and these walking targets?’
“You know, you’re right Roy. Lets go.”
Both men left the room. Marco and Mike looked at Chet in a funny way. “Thanks a lot Chet!”
“What did I do?” asked Kelly who couldn’t understand his friends annoyance. He was the innocent one in all of this.
Marco just shook his head.. “You ‘re the one who started this war with Johnny and now we’re the ones to pay. I can only imagine what Johnny has in store for you! I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when he strikes.”
Chat was dumbfounded. Now this was his fault? He couldn’t believe them! “Oh come on guys! You think Gage can touch me? In your dreams!”
The quiet engineer couldn’t help but put in his two cents. “He got Roy and Cap, didn’t he?”
On those words, Mike and Marco walked out of the kitchen, leaving Chet alone to think about the situation.
“Nah! He can’t touch me. But just to be sure, I’m gonna keep my eyes open!” Nodding his head in silent approval, he walked toward the locker room to change.
# Station 51 unknown type of rescue. 521 Melrose Avenue. Five two one Melrose Avenue. Cross street Belmont. Time out 11:32. #
Cap grabbed the microphone to acknowledge the call. “Station 51 KMG 365.”
The squad and he engine pulled out from the bay and sped to their destination. Half way there, dispatch cancelled the call, so they went back to the station.
Roy went to the captain’s office to fill out the logbook and that left Johnny looking for something to do. The squad and the engine were spotless, the chores were finished and there were no drills on the day schedule. Too much time and energy without a way to spend it for the dynamo that was John Gage.
He decided to join Chet in the kitchen. The dark-haired paramedic tapped on Kelly’s shoulder, repressing a laugh when the fireman jumped in surprise.
“Geez! Gage don’t do that!”
“Oh Chet! Don’t tell me you’re scared of me?” Johnny couldn’t help but to smile smugly.
Chet Kelly just sniggered. “In your dreams Gage!”
The tall paramedic just shrugged. He knew that Chet was on edge, waiting for the moment Johnny would play his last prank. And it was a sweet victory to see the phantom trying to stay ahead of his pigeon. And he was failing miserably. Every little sound made the Irishman jumped out of his skin. He wouldn’t let Johnny come close to him or accept whatever had been within Johnny’s reach. Yes indeed John Gage was feeling on top of things. So he decided to be nice and cut the man some slack for a few moments.
“Want to shoot some hoops?”, he asked in a playful tone. Kelly looked at his crew mate suspiciously. He had had the time to think on his day off and came to the conclusion that he needed to stay alert until April 2. Then he would exact his revenge on the pigeon. Not that he was afraid of Gage, because he wasn’t. But there was no way he would give the paramedic any opportunity to get him. Even if it meant eating alone, sleeping with his eyes opened and keeping his distance from everyone at the station. “Why?”
Johnny raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean why?”, he replied.
Chet just shook his head. If Gage thought that he would fall for it, he was sorely mistaken. “What’s the catch?”, he asked again.
Now Gage was dumbfounded. He wanted to shoot some hoops because there was nothing else to do and he had energy to spend. Chet was being paranoid. Of course he was being paranoid! He didn’t know that Johnny was genuine in his offer. Kelly was expecting him to try to get him. The paramedic smiled at the now fidgeting Irishman.
“You’re paranoid Chet! What do you think I’ll do? Throw you through the basket?”
Now Chet didn’t like Johnny’s smile one bit. That could only mean he was preparing something.’Ah! you think you’re so smart Gage! But I’m one step ahead of you. You won’t get me’, he thought. “I’m not paranoid. And I wouldn’t put it past you, in your pathetic attempt to catch me with your silly pranks.”
Johnny just shrugged. “Fine! Be that way! But I’m telling you...”
Before he could finish they heard a strangled scream coming from the bay. They both rushed in, only to find a red faced engineer sitting in the cabin of the engine, surrounded by a thick layer of white foam that smelled like baby powder. It was everywhere, covering parts of the gauges, the tires, the hoses.
“John Gage! Of all the things you could have done, you had to touch Big Red! I could...I could...”
The usually quiet Mike Stoker was at lost for words. His indignation was written all over his face. Johnny stayed silent for a while and then smugly asked, “Why accuse me?”
Chet was glad that for once he wasn’t pointed at as the culprit. That’ll teach you Gage!
Stoker jumped from the rig, his pants and shirt wet, some white foam clinging to his hair and shoulders. He took a deep breath and faced the dark-haired paramedic. “I know it’s you because Chet couldn’t pull such an elaborate prank.”
“Yeah you tell him Mike!’, Chet told the engineer with a smile that slowly turned into a frown, realizing what Mike Stoker had implied. “What do you mean, I couldn’t pull such an elaborate prank?”
Now he was insulted. But before anyone could reply, Cap put his foot down.
“Michael, go change. Gage, Kelly, clean up this mess!” It was worse than kindergarten. Lucky for him, he was off the hook with Johnny.
Chet opened his eyes wide, not believing his captain. “What? I’m not responsible for this mess and you want me to clean it up?”
Hank Stanley glared at his man. “You have time to argue with Johnny and you have time for that silly war. In which, I have to remind you, you’re still a walking target. It means you have too much time on your hands. The engine needs cleaning, now. Or do the words ‘latrine for three months’ sound more appealing?’, his tone leaving no room for discussion.
Without a word, Mike went to the shower stall, Roy and Marco went back to their respective tasks and Johnny gathered what would be needed to clean the engine and the bay. Chet grabbed a rag and started cleaning, muttering under his breath. Johnny smiled and started whistling.
“Shut up, Gage!”, bellowed Chet Kelly. That only earned him a snigger.
It was 6:15 am and Chet was dozing on the couch with Henry on his lap. He had decided to come to work early just to make sure that the coast was clear. It was March 31st and Chet knew that he needed to stay alert around Gage. Their little war was coming to an end and he needed to make sure that Johnny couldn’t get to him before April 2nd had arrived. Two days and he would make his pigeon suffer, Oh yeah! Gage had picked on the wrong guy. And he would regret it.
But for now he was napping comfortably, knowing that he was safe, at least until 7:45. Then Gage would be in and all peace and quiet would go to hell.
Kelly practically fell off the couch when he heard the voice of his tormentor. He stood up and looked at Johnny like a deer caught in the headlights. “What...What are you doing here this early?”. he asked, swallowing hard. So much for safety!
Johnny shrugged. “Dwyer needed to leave early on some personal emergency. I have offered to fill in for him. I’ve been here since five this morning.”
The stocky fireman narrowed his eyes and suspiciously looked at Johnny. The man was the picture of innocence. But he knew better, “Yeah! Right! Try another one.”
The paramedic just shook his head. “What’s with you? You know I fill in for the guys when they need a replacement. You want some coffee?”
“NO!”, Chet almost yelled. He wasn’t going to fall for Johnny’s little friendship act.”I’m gonna go get my own coffee.” He didn’t want Gage near him or anything he would drink or eat.
Johnny just raised his hands in mock surrender. “Okay, okay! No need to panic. Suit yourself. Man!”
That stopped Chet dead in his tracks. Maybe that’s just what Gage wanted. For Chet to go to the coffee pot and then Bang!, he would strike with a stupid prank.
“Nah! No coffee for me this morning. As a matter of fact, Gage, you stay away from me from now on. “
The dark-haired paramedic just laughed and sat at the table.
“Oh Chet! Don’t tell me you’re afraid of me! Didn’t you tell me that I wouldn’t be able to get you?”
“And you won’t! The rest of the guys are way too trusting. But you can be sneaky. And I got your number”, the fireman replied in a dry tone.
Johnny laughed again and spread his hand on his chest. “ Sneaky? Me? Must be the red-skin in me, huh? But you’re probably safer with me around. Because when I’ll strike, you won’t see me coming at all.”
He really liked the way Chet was squirming now. He left the kitchen under the glare of his crew mate. Chet didn’t like this cocky new confident Johnny. Gage was his pigeon. Gullible and always ready for the take. Not the other way around. Maybe Gage was right. Maybe it would be safer to keep him close. Or maybe that was part of his plan. The mustached man sighed deeply. This would be a long, long shift.
“Dinner’s ready!” called Marco from the kitchen. The men gathered around the table.
“Smells good pal”, Cap said, eyeing the pot on the table. “But then, your chili is always good.
Lopez smiled at his captain’s praise. “Well dig in!”
All the men served themselves a generous portion of the spicy chili. Crackers were passed around and the guys started to eat. At the first bite, Marco erupted in a fit of coughing, spitting a mouthful of chili back into his plate. He rushed to the cupboard to get a piece of bread. He swallowed a few bites between the coughs. His face was turning beet red and Roy went to check on him. “Are you okay?.
The fireman could only nod his response, still coughing. After a few minutes, he was able to take a breath that send some relief to his burning throat and lungs.
‘Jesus! Gage! What did you do?”, Marco’s voice was raspy and barely above a whisper.
All the men turned to look at Johnny who was still eating the delicious concoction. He looked back at them and just shrugged.
”What?”, he asked with his mouth full. “You always say that you like your chili extra spicy. I just spiced it up a little bit.”
Chet was the first to talk, more than a little incensed.”How could you do that? He could have choked to death. You could have hurt him!” He was so worked up that his face was turning red. Marco put his hand on his friend’s shoulder to calm him down. No harm done, there was not need to overreact.
Johnny just smirked. “Marco’s gonna be fine. Won’t you Marco? At least he can relax now. The race is over for him. But you’re still a contender Chet. Just remember that. Or maybe you would like to concede the victory to me and we can stop it now”, he said taking another bite of chili. “This is very good Marco.”
Marco Lopez just threw the contents of his plate in the trash and served himself another portion of Chili. All the men, except for Chet returned to their plate.
“No way Gage. I’m not conceding anything. You’re not gonna get me. And on April 2nd I’ll claim my prize and then we’ll see who will laugh.” The Irishman grabbed an apple and left the table to sit on the couch. It would be a long night.
Sigh...Chet checked at the clock on the wall. 1:19. Five minutes later than when he had last checked. All the little ordinary noises were amplified by the silence of the dorm room, startling the mustached fireman. He could hear the slight snoring of Mike and Roy, the heavy breathing of Cap and the soft whispers of Marco. But he really couldn’t hear if Johnny was asleep or not. And he couldn’t take the chance. So he was fighting to stay awake. Sigh...
“Go to sleep Chet. I won’t do anything to you. Not tonight anyway.”
Johnny’s voice was a little above whisper, so not to wake the guys, but to Chet it sounded like a shout. He had been so deep in thought that even Gage’s soft words had startled him. So he replied in a not so soft voice. “Yeah! That’s what you want me to think!”
Gage sat up in his bunk and looked at Chet in the dim light, shaking his head.
“Look Chet. Tomorrow will probably be busy with all sorts of April Fool’s pranks turned sour, You need to be in good shape and alert. That means a good night sleep. I’m not trusting my life with a guy who won’t have all his wits or who will be jumpy from lack of sleep. “
Before Chet could reply, Hank Stanley cleared his throat. “Would you two just shut up and go back to sleep”, he said with annoyance.
“Yeah. Sorry Cap.”
Johnny lied down and threw his left arm over his eyes. Chet was a little hesitant to go to sleep. Not too sure if he could trust Gage not to pull a prank on him while he slept. He needed to be reassured.
“Promise you won’t do anything Johnny?”
He only got a snore for answer. So the stocky fireman decided to take the chance and closed his eyes. Soon he was asleep. A little restless, but asleep nonetheless.
So far it had been a quiet day at the station. Except for two minor injuries, the squad hadn’t been called for any pranks turned sour. But they knew by experience that it could change pretty fast. And the engine had no calls at all. Which gave Chet plenty of time to work himself up thinking about Johnny preparing his pranks to get the Phantom. Right now he couldn’t trust anyone.
When Marco and Mike
entered the day room, they spotted Chet sitting in the corner of the room, his
chair against the wall, so that he had a view of the whole place with no
possibility for anyone to sneak up on him.
The quiet engineer couldn’t suppress a laugh. Chet was a nervous wreck and Johnny had yet to play his prank against him. Marco just shook his head and walked toward his friend..
“Don’t you think you’re over reacting Chet?”
The stocky fireman just glared at his friend. “No I’m not. Gage won’t get to me. I figured that if I stay here until midnight, I’ll win the bet. And believe me, the pigeon will suffer.” He was so focused on Marco that he didn’t spot Johnny entering the day room.
Johnny smiled when he heard Chet’s comment. “I will?”, he asked loudly. Kelly jumped in surprise and fell from the chair. Roy and Hank were on Gage’s heels so they witnessed the Phantom’s less than gracious fall. They couldn’t help but laugh at the pitiful sight their comrade presented. Johnny took two steps and held his hand to help Chet get up, but the mustached man swatted at him.
“Stay away from me Gage. I don’t need your help”, he growled. He picked himself up with as much dignity he could muster and sat back on his chair.
Hank Stanley just shook his head. This little war had been fun, but now it was getting old. Luckily, it would be over by the end of the day. “Okay men. Exceptionally I will make roll call here. Mike and Marco, the hoses, Roy KP and Johnny the dorm. Chet...latrine.”
Chet opened his eyes wide. He hadn’t done anything and yet he had latrine duty. “But Cap...”
Johnny decided to take pity on the fireman. “It’s okay Chet, we can exchange chores if Cap doesn’t mind.”
Stanley just shrugged. “It makes no difference to me. As long as it’s done.”
But Chet eyed the tall paramedic suspiciously. No way Gage would swap chores with him if he hadn’t planned something. ‘Ah! You think I’m stupid, don’t you, Gage? Well I’ll show you who is stupid.’, he thought. “No! That’s okay. I’ll do the latrine.” With that said, he left the room before anyone could say another word.
Johnny watched him go with a frown. “Geez! What’s with him? I just offered to do the latrine for him and he freaked out!” He looked at the guys with his most innocent face and all the others could do was roll their eyes. Roy just looked at his partner and smiled..
“You know what’s with him. He’s a mess, thanks to you. The poor guy isn’t used to being the pigeon. I think it’ll take a little while for us to get the old Chet back.”
For a moment Johnny almost felt sorry for Kelly. But remembering all the pranks the Phantom had pulled on him killed the feeling instantly. He just shrugged. “It’s gonna be over soon. Then everything will return to normal.”
“I hope so”, they all said at the same time.
“I’m telling you. I don’t care if it’s my turn, I won’t do the dishes if Gage is in the room with me.” Chet Kelly sounded like a petulant child. Supper had been more than strange with the stocky fireman eating apart from them. He had placed his chair in a corner of the room and ate while keeping an eye on Johnny.
Captain Stanley was more than a little annoyed at his man. “ Now Kelly, stop acting like a three year old and do the damn dishes. Gage won’t do anything, will you John?” The dark-haired paramedic just smirked. “John!”, warned Cap. Johnny just raised his hands in mock surrender. “Sure Cap. I won’t do a thing.” He looked at Chet straight in the eyes and mouthed ‘yet’.
“I want him to leave the room!” stubbornly said Kelly. He knew he was being childish but he didn’t want to take any chances.
Johnny just shook his head. “Okay okay. Man! It’s like kindergarten here! I’ll be in the dorm.” He stood up to leave the room when Chet’s shout stopped him.
“NO! Not the dorm. I
don’t want you near my bunk!”
Hank Stanley closed his eyes and decided to count to ten before killing the annoying Irishman. “Chet! That’s enough! It’s either the kitchen or the dorm. End of discussion.”, he said with just enough menace in his tone to stop the mustached fireman from protesting.
Chet Kelly knew better than to argue with his commanding officer when he used that tone of voice. “Okay. He can stay in the kitchen. But if he so much looks at me, I...”
“You will do the dishes and that’s all Kelly. Now stop whining and start washing.” This was a direct order from Cap and with a sulk, Chet started his task.
The guys decided to start a game of card to pass the time. But every time someone talked loudly or moved his chair, Chet would turn around as fast as a whip and survey the scene with wide eyes. He even managed to break a glass and two plates in his nervous state. The guys were starting to feel sorry for their friend but he did need a lesson. Chet could dish out pranks but wasn’s very good at being on the receiving end. If, for once, Johnny could teach the Phantom a lesson, well it was well deserved.
The tones interrupted the game and Roy and Johnny rushed out to the squad, but Gage stopped and took a second to look at Chet and wiggled his eyebrows. The stocky Irishman just scowled at his nemesis. At least that call would give him a few moments of peace. Unless Gage had prepared something for him somewhere else in the station. Kelly decided to inspect the dorm and his bunk to make sure that everything was okay and then he would stay on his bed until midnight. ‘Ah! That’ll teach you Gage! The pigeon can’t out smart the Phantom!’ he thought with a smirk.
Cap, Marco and Mike looked at their crew mate in surprise when they heard him whistle. Marco shook his head. “I think he lost it”, he said sadly.
Mike nodded his head. “Yeah. Definitely!”
Cap just sighed and prayed for the day to finish soon
“Ah man! I’m bushed!”
“Yeah. Me too.”
Both paramedic were exhausted. They had had three calls following that first one. And the last one did them in. Not that the call had been dangerous or anything. But their patient, an obese man, had decided to build himself a turkish bath INSIDE his sauna. To double the sweating effect, he said. Problem was, the bath was way too small for the man and on top of that he had installed an electronic lock which malfunctioned due to the excess humidity. So both paramedics had tried for nearly an hour to free the poor man from the contraption. The heat had been nearly unbearable, and once the bath opened they had had to use all their strength to help the man out. They were both exhausted by the time they got him into the house. Then the man had collapsed due to heat stroke. It took another hour to treat the man, transport him to rampart and make the trip back to the station.
Roy parked the squad into the bay and looked at his watch. “11:20. I think I’m gonna kiss my pillow!”
“Right behind you, pally”, answered John with a yawn. They both walked silently into the dorm, surprised that the whole station had already gone to bed. They could hear snoring and deep breathing. But somehow, Johnny knew that Chet wouldn’t be asleep. Good! He would see what was coming to him.
Both paramedics undressed silently and got into bed. Gage couldn’t help but yank Chet’s chain. “Goodnight Chet!”
He only got silence for an answer. Johnny smiled and put his left arm over his eyes and immediately went to sleep. It wan’t long for Roy to follow his partner into Morpheus’ arms.
Chet Kelly kept his eyes on the clock on the wall. A couple of minutes now and he would win. He started to count in his head and as soon as the hand reached one second past midnight, the stocky Irishman raised his arms up in victory. “YES! Ah! Eat your heart out Gage. You will never out smart the Phantom!” he shouted with glee, not really caring if he woke his crew mates up in the process.
Cap startled at Chet’s shout and opened the lights. “Kelly, ya twit! Go back to sleep.”
“But Cap you don’t understand! It’s one past midnight and Gage didn’t get me!” Chet was so enthusiastic that he was almost bouncing in his bed. All the guys were awake now and were watching their friend with amusement.
Johnny sat on his bunk and smirked at the Phantom. “Oh but I got you, Babe!”, he said, very proud of his pun. Roy just rolled his eyes.
Chet just shook his head. “Nah! You got all the guys but me. I told you that you couldn’t out smart the Phantom. And now, you’ll pay Gage. I’ll take my time to find the perfect reward....”
Marco laughed and shook his head. “No Chet. Johnny really out smarted the Phantom.”
Kelly frowned and looked at his friend. “What are you talking about? He got you all. But not me.”
Roy looked at the mustached fireman with an amused face. “Did you taste my coffee, Chet?”
“Did you see Johnny put the cooler full of fish in my car? You owe me for that one Gage!”, added Cap.
“Or taste my chili?”, Marco asked with a laugh.
“And if you remember, the engine and the squad were both on a run. When we came back, Johnny was with you the whole time. So I had the time to install the foam dispenser in the engine.”
Everyone turned to look at Mike Stoker, who blushed under the attention. But soon they returned to Chet who was still shaking his head in denial. “But you didn’t play a prank on me!”, the poor fireman replied, a bit confused by all this.
Johnny shrugged. “That’s my prank. No prank. And remember, I told you I would make you miserable. I think I succeeded, wouldn’t you agree, Chet?”. Johnny’s voice didn’t have as much glee as he could have put in. He was taking pity on his friend.
“I suggest that we all go to sleep, now. And Chet, you might start thinking about the speech you’re gonna give at the department picnic”, Cap couldn’t help but tease his man.
Chet just huffed and grabbed his pillow and went to sleep on the couch. All the men laughed and Cap turned the lights out.
“Thanks guys. I couldn’t have succeeded without your help.” Gage was grateful that his crew mates had decided to be in with the prank.
“You’re welcome, John. But that was a once in a lifetime.”
Johnny laughed. “In this case, once in a life time is more than enough.”
Within minutes all the men were asleep. All but one, who was trying very hard to forget that he had been the butt of his pigeon’s joke.
“Ladies and Gentlemen may I have your attention please?”, Chief McConikee asked the attendance.
Everyone stopped talking and turned their attention to the Chief, who was standing on the stage that had been placed under a large tree, with a beet red faced Chester B Kelly.
“You all know Chester B Kelly from Station 51. It seems that he has an announcement to make. Go ahead, son” said the Chief, patting the embarrassed fireman’s arm.
The stocky foreman cleared his throat. “Huh...Well...You...You all know the Phantom...”
Everyone in the attendance nodded their heads. They all knew about the Phantom and his pigeon.
“Well...Huh...Let’s just say that the Phantom has met his match. He’s been outsmarted by his pigeon. John Gage pulled the most unlikely prank on the Phantom. He didn’t pull one. He got me, hook, link and sinker.
So John, as promised, I bow before you and proclaim that you are the greatest prankster. Nobody ever out smarted the Phantom before, and hopefully, nobody will ever again.”
And under the amazed stare of the whole fire department and company, Chester B Kelly aka the Phantom bowed very low before a very proud John Gage. After a while, John walked to the stage and grabbed the microphone.
“I want you to know that you’re still the greatest prankster, Chet. I’m very proud to consider myself a close second. After all I have plenty of experience at the receiving end of those pranks. So what do you say, no hard feelings?”, Johnny asked Chet, presenting his hand to shake. Chet took a few seconds to consider, then shook Johnny’s hand. He couldn’t believe how gracious Gage was with the whole situation.
“Come on, lets go get a beer. This way”, Johnny directed Chet at the other side of the stage. But he didn’t follow his crew mate. Before he even realized it, Kelly was covered in green slime that came from a bomb launched from the tree. Everyone started to laugh at the sorry sight the poor fireman offered.
Johnny just smirked.. “That’s how it all started, isn’t it? Well it’s logical that it’s how it should end. See you Chet!”
The dark-haired paramedic joined his crew mates who were shaking their head at the unfortunate Phantom.
“Will he ever learn?”, asked Marco with a smile.
Cap just shook his head. “Give him a few years!”
They all went to the table where lunch was waiting, leaving a very wet and very green fireman muttering under his breath.
“You just wait Gage. I’m gonna get you. And you won’t know what hit you. The Phantom will have his revenge!”
To add insult to injury, a pigeon passed above Chet and with his mocking coo, relieved himself on the fireman’s shoulder.
“Arghhhhh! I’m gonna get you pigeon, or my name isn’t Chester B Kelly”, he shouted, raising his fist at the bird.
“He really lost it!” Cap told his men, an amused smile on his lips.
“I think Chet’s broken.” Mike couldn’t help but put in his two cents.
“Nah! He’ll be fine. Once he pulls a prank or two on his pigeon, he’ll be back to his old self.” Roy said quietly.
“Thanks a lot partner! I thought you were on my side. Maybe next time I’ll really poison your coffee.” Johnny wasn’t really mad at his partner. He knew that eventually the Phantom would come back to haunt the station. But for now Johnny would just bask in the light of his success.
He heard a coo and raised his eyes to the sky. He smiled at the sight of the pigeon leaving the park. “Thanks partner”, he said under his breath. Yes indeed, it was the day the pigeon got his revenge.
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