Round One: A Small Victory
By Audrey W.
Johnny walked into the locker room, ready for another shift on duty. As he opened his locker, he looked curiously to his partner beside him. Roy was staring into his own locker, his blue uniform shirt still unbuttoned.
“You’re awfully quiet. Bad morning?” Gage asked as he changed his shirt.
Roy glanced at Johnny, then began buttoning his shirt. “No. It’s nothing.”
“There’s something bothering you. I can tell,” the dark-haired paramedic said. He tucked his blue shirt into his pants. “Was it a fight with Joanne? Or the kids get into trouble?”
“No, I told you. . .it’s nothing. At least nothing that concerns you,” Roy politely explained.
Johnny sat on the bench and began to tie his shoes. “Roy, haven’t you figured it out yet? We always handle these things better when we talk to each other about them. C’mon, man, maybe I can help.”
Roy studied Gage. Maybe he had a point. After all, they did end up talking to each other about problems eventually.
DeSoto sighed. “Okay. It’s really not a big problem. . .well, maybe it is.”
“Well? What is it?”
“My mother came out here on a surprise visit for Mother’s Day tomorrow. But we already had plans with Joanne’s mom.”
“So?” Johnny shrugged. “Take them both out to dinner.”
Roy rested his chin on his hands, his elbows on his knees. “I wish it was that easy. They don’t get along since Jo’s mother referred to me as ‘just a fireman’.” He sat up straighter, his hands loosely clasped between his knees. “They can’t even be in the same room without making comments to one another or giving each other sly looks.”
“Sounds like fun,” Gage interjected sarcastically.
“We thought we’d solved the problem when we told Mom the four of us would go to breakfast with her tomorrow,” Roy continued. “Then in the evening, we’d go to dinner with Jo’s mother.”
“Sounds fair. . .”
DeSoto nodded. “Yeah, I mean if they aren’t even gonna try to get along, what else can we do? Only thing is, my mother says it’s okay, but I can tell by her tone of voice. . .she’ll never let me forget I went to dinner with my mother-in-law on Mother’s Day and left her home alone.”
Johnny nodded his head as he stood up. “I’d say you’ve got a problem.”
Roy followed suit and got to his feet, closing his locker. “I know that much. What I don’t know is what to do about it.”
“Hmmm,” Gage rubbed his chin in thought. Suddenly his expression brightened and he snapped his fingers. “I got it!”
“Well, I don’t have any plans for Mother’s Day. How about I take your mom out for dinner?”
Roy stared at Johnny a moment, not sure how to reply. He figured the younger man had lost his mind.
“You can’t take her out on Mother’s Day.”
“Why not? She’s a ‘mom’.”
“Yeah, but she’s my mom!”
Roy pushed the door to the apparatus bay open and stepped out of the locker room. Johnny followed behind.
“Roy, I can take your mom out for Mother’s Day. Heck, I’m on a first name basis with her . . .Harriet.”
“You know her first name.”
Gage shrugged. “It’s the same thing.”
The blonde paramedic stopped walking and turned around to face his partner. “It’s not the same thing. She’s only met you twice.”
“Okay, so it’s not the same thing. But I can take her out for dinner. Just ask her.”
“I can’t. . .”
“Roy, she knows my Mom is gone. So tell her she’ll be doing me a favor.”
Roy waved Johnny off as he started forward again. “It won’t work. You’re not even family.”
“Just ask,” Gage repeated.
The senior paramedic shook his head again as they walked into the dayroom. He couldn’t believe what Johnny was suggesting.
Still. . .it might be good for both of them. And it could get Mom to behave better towards Joanne's mother. After an hour with Johnny, she'll be glad to spend time with someone else. Anybody else. And if Mom makes the first move to be nice, Jo's Mom is sure to follow. . .
Once the shift was over, Roy promised his partner he would talk to Harriet DeSoto about going out to dinner with the younger man. The more thought he’d given the idea during the shift, the better it sounded.
Gage arrived at the DeSotos’ house at four o’clock Sunday afternoon. Dressed in blue denim pants and a button down brown plaid shirt, he waited in the livingroom while Harriet DeSoto reluctantly followed through on Roy’s suggestion she go to dinner with Johnny. The woman couldn’t help thinking about Joanne’s mother getting to spend the evening with her son and grandchildren. True, Harriet had a special breakfast with them that morning and, yes, the children were the other woman’s grandkids as well. But it was the thought of Joanne’s mother being with them instead of her being there that bothered Harriet the most.
As she walked down the sidewalk, following Gage to his Land Rover, Harriet glanced over her right shoulder at her son. She hoped he hadn’t gotten her in for a miserable evening. Clueless to the woman’s feelings, Johnny held the passenger door open for her. He gave the okay signal to Roy as Harriet climbed in.
Eight o’clock that night, DeSoto watched the clock, waiting for his mother to return. He wasn’t sure he wanted to hear how the evening went. But curiosity was eating him up. Gut feeling told him that Harriet would be ready to chew him out for talking her into the crazy plan.
The sound of a car pulling into the driveway brought Roy out of his thoughts. He waited by the door, ready to apologize to his mom.
The front door opened and a laughing, smiling Harriet DeSoto walked in, followed by Johnny. Roy stood opened mouthed. He glanced first to his mother, then to Gage.
“Everything went okay?”
“Yeah!” Johnny said, grinning. “Your mom’s a good bowler!”
“Bowling? You took my mom bowling? What happened to dinner?”
“Oh, relax, Roy,” Harriet said. “It was my idea. We were headed for a restaurant and I asked John what he did with his free time . . .he mentioned bowling and it sounded like fun.”
Roy wasn’t sure whether to be relieved his mom had a good time or feel disappointed that she enjoyed the evening out . . .
With someone else’s ‘kid’ on Mother’s Day. I wanted her to have a good time, but did it have to work out this well? And bowling?
“But you hate bowling, Mom.”
“Since when? I bowl. It’s just been a lot of years since the last time because your father hates to bowl.”
Roy shrugged. “So you had a good time?”
Harriet nodded. “Yes.” She patted Gage on the back. “John here is a very entertaining young man. I don’t know why some young lady hasn’t snagged him up yet.”
Johnny blushed and grinned, while DeSoto rolled his eyes. Probable reasons Johnny was still single flashed through his mind.
He talks too much at times, spends $8.42 on dinner dates, he can be obsessive . . .
“Well, I’d better be going,” Johnny said as he turned to leave. “Gotta be up for work early tomorrow. Thanks for a fun Mother’s Day, Harriet.” He paused as she thanked him for the evening out. “See ya at work tomorrow, Roy.”
“Yeah, see ya. And thanks.”
Johnny nodded in response, a satisfied grin on his face, then started down the walk.
A smile crept across Roy’s face while he stood at the door and watched as his partner backed the Land Rover out of the driveway. It was probably the strangest plan Gage had come up with that he’d gone along with, but Roy couldn’t say he had any regrets. Odd as it was, everyone came out a winner.
“I wonder if John would do this again next year.”
Roy turned around and smiled at his mother. They’d had a good time at breakfast and her evening turned out perfect.
“How about next year we all go bowling?”
“You, me, Joanne, the kids and John?”
“And Joanne’s mother if she’s visiting then,” Roy added.
Harriet nodded. “Sure. I’ll bet I could beat the socks off her.”
Roy shook his head and sighed.
At least she means at bowling.
Thanks for the beta read, Kenda. And thanks, mom (who’s visiting from Colorado), for the help with the title.