The Purr-Fect Surprise
By Audrey W.
Johnny came into the locker room, whistling as he stepped up to his locker.
“Good morning, John,” Chet replied in an exaggerated happy tone.
Gage glanced around at the others and returned a wary expression to Chet. “Okay, I give. . . . what’s up?”
“Oh, I don’t know. That’s a good question, though.” Chet looked at the rest of A-shift standing in front of their respective lockers. “Anyone have an answer?”
Mike and Marco shook their heads, trying to keep serious expressions on their faces. Roy chose to go about his business, still concentrating on getting ready for the start of the shift.
Johnny took in the various reactions of his shiftmates. He placed his hands on his hips, his uniform shirt hanging open over a white t-shirt and jeans.
“Alright. C’mon. Someone spill it. Something’s up.”
Marco closed his locker and headed towards the dorm, Chet following close on his heels. The stocky fireman looked over his shoulder at the dark-haired paramedic and grinned.
“Better hurry and finish getting dressed, Gage. Don’t want to be late for roll call.”
His mouth hanging open in an unvoiced reply to Chet, Johnny turned to his partner. Roy was sitting on the bench tying his shoes, obviously ignoring the conversation. Gage then looked to Mike as the engineer started towards the door to the apparatus bay.
“Okay, Mikey. Now that he’s not in here, you can tell me what Chet’s up to.”
Stoker stopped in his tracks and shrugged. “Don’t ask me, Johnny. I find it safer not to know anymore than I have to around here.”
The paramedic gave him a doubtful look. “Yeah, maybe so. But Mom always said to watch out for the ‘quiet ones’.”
The engineer grinned and pushed open the swinging door, disappearing into the apparatus bay.
“Mike!” Gage shot out the door after him. Roy breathed a sigh of relief that he’d managed to avoid the whole conversation. He wasn’t sure what Chet and the others were up to, but Johnny was in for a surprise of some sort. Roy just hoped it wouldn’t end in his partner needing a towel or a change of uniform.
After roll call, Captain Stanley assigned each of the men a chore. Johnny grew even more suspicious of Chet’s cheery mood when the mustached man didn’t complain about getting latrine duty.
The paramedic watched as Kelly gathered his cleaning supplies from the storage closet in the bay.
He’s just too happy. He’s gotta be up to something. But what?
After Chet was on his way to the latrine, Johnny reached in the closet and pulled out a broom. His eyes on the retreating back of his nemesis, the paramedic sighed.
Figures the shift would start out this way.
Gage wandered into the dorm, where Hank had assigned his chore. As he straightened up the place and swept the floor, the paramedic glanced at the doorway leading to the latrine. He couldn’t help but wonder if Chet was setting up a ‘surprise’ for him. The Irishman was known for his antics with Johnny’s locker and such.
Finally unable to stand it any longer, Johnny leaned the broom up against the wall near the desk and headed into the locker area. Chet was nowhere to be seen. Gage looked in the few stalls and shower, but still no sign of the fireman.
I’ll bet he already set a trap in my locker and left.
Johnny stood to the side of his own locker and slowly opened the door.
Once the locker was all the way open and there was no sign of any traps, Gage stuck his head in and searched the interior for anything that looked out of the ordinary. The paramedic came up empty handed. There wasn’t a single trick anywhere. He sat on the bench and gave it more thought.
There’s gotta be a prank. Maybe Chet’s prank is to get me to think there’s a prank, but there really isn’t.
Johnny sighed. Then suddenly he stood up and snapped his fingers, another possibility coming to mind. “The supply closet!”
The paramedic quickly returned to the dorm and grabbed the broom. He hurried across the apparatus bay to the supply closet, stopping just a few inches away from the door. Gage carefully opened the door, as he stood off to the side, fully expecting a water bomb to come flying out at him. When nothing happened, the puzzled man frowned.
Great. He’s going to get me when I least expect it. At least if it had been in the closet I would have been prepared.
As he walked into the dayroom, Johnny looked in wonder at the decorated room. There were several balloons hanging from the ceiling throughout the room, blue and white streamers strung between them. A large cardboard box sat in the middle of the table.
What in the world? “Where is everyone? Hello- o?”
Not getting an answer, Gage walked over to the box and peered in. There were ten small cans of cat food and a half-gallon carton of milk inside.
A sudden chorus of “Surprise” rang out behind the paramedic, startling him. Johnny turned and saw the others watching, wide smiles on their faces.
“What’s all this?” Gage asked, motioning towards the box of food and the decorations in the room.
“Why, John,” Chet began, stepping forward. “Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten the ‘little woman’ and the ‘kids’.”
“What are you talking about, Chet?”
Kelly shook his head. “Gage, I’m surprised at you. I thought you were more sentimental than that.”
“Chet!” Johnny said between gritted teeth, his eyes narrowed.
Marco sensed someone had better explain. “The cat and the kittens. . .it’s Father’s Day tomorrow and Chet suggested we throw you a ‘Father’s Day’ party since you had taken care of the momma cat a few weeks ago when she was having her babies.”
Johnny screwed up his face. “Father’s Day? I’m not a ‘dad’,” he said, shaking his head. He then pointed at his chest. “It’s not my fault a cat had kittens on my bed.”
“Oh, c’mon, Johnny. You even missed the cats when they were gone,” Chet said. “So we figured this way you can set the food out and lure them back. You can get your adopted ‘family’ back in time for the holiday if you’re lucky.”
“I don’t want those cats back. . .I lucked out that they left to begin with.”
“Now what kind of thing is that for a ‘dad’ to say?”
“Kelly, this is not--”
The tones sounded, interrupting Johnny’s response. The men listened to see who it was for. The engine was called out, but the squad stayed behind. Once the two paramedics were alone, Johnny took the carton of milk and a can of cat food out of the large cardboard box. Setting the milk on the counter, he proceeded to open the can of the food.
“Will you hand me a plate, Roy?”
“I thought you didn’t want to feed the cats.”
“Well, no sense letting this all go to waste. Besides,” Johnny shrugged, “I kind of liked the cat and her kittens. . .they were kinda cute. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. You know . . . just to know they’re okay.”
Roy smiled and handed his partner the dish. “You’re gonna make a fine dad someday,”
“Yeah, well,” Johnny reached over to a small bowl on the counter and began to pour some of the milk into it. “Just don’t tell Chet that. I don’t need the ‘Phantom’ getting anymore ideas.”
“Sure.” The senior paramedic picked up the plate with the food as his partner went to reach for it, the bowl of milk in his other hand. “I’ve got it.”
As they walked away from the counter, Roy glanced up at the balloons overhead. “I wonder how Chet will react to his joke being put to good use.”
Johnny reached over to the counter and picked up a fork with his free hand. The paramedic stuck the utensil into one of the balloons above him, popping it.
“Like that, I hope.”
The two friends snickered as they carried the food and milk out the backdoor.
Thanks for the beta read, Kenda! :o)
Note: Although the airdate of Alley Cat was in October 1973, the show never specified when it actually took place. For story purposes, it took place in June 1974 in this alternate ending.