By Audrey W.
“C’mon, let’s go,” Roy DeSoto said as he motioned for his partner John Gage to follow him. The two paramedics had just finished their morning chore of cleaning the dayroom, which they’d done after inventorying their rescue squad’s supplies.
Johnny balled up the rag he’d used to wipe out the double ovens and headed out of the room behind Roy. The latter carried a broom and dust pan out to the supply closet in the apparatus bay. Johnny tossed his rag in when Roy opened the closet door.
As Roy closed the door, Johnny asked, “Where’re we goin’ again?”
“To the Christmas Cottage store. Joanne said they’re supposed to be having a real good after-Christmas sale and since Christopher is sick with the flu, she can’t get out. She wanted me to stop by there if we had some spare time.”
“Don’tcha mean she wanted us to stop by there?”
“I guess you could say that, being we’re kind of stuck with each other for the next twenty-two hours or so.”
Johnny gave a smug grin at his correct statement, then went around to the passenger side of the squad. He climbed in as Roy did the same on the other side. Roy called them in as 10-8 on an errand. Captain Stanley, the officer in charge of their shift, had given them permission to go as long as they promised to stop at a grocery store as well and bring back something for lunch.
“After Christmas sale. Everything must go,” Johnny read out loud.
It was a large sign hung in the window of the Christmas Cottage store.
Roy nodded. “They’re only open for a few months out of the year. It’s a wealthy older couple who just do this on the side for the holidays.”
Again he nodded.
Johnny stood staring at the exterior of the place, a grin spreading across his face.
“Before you go getting any ideas in that head of yours,” Roy said, “It takes a lot of money to get a business like this going.”
“Oh, I know. I know.” They continued on toward the entrance. “But if we ever get rich, it might be something we’d like to try.”
“Well, sure. Ya wouldn’t want me ta leave you out, would ya?”
Roy looked at him and firmly stated, “Yes.”
Johnny frowned, then shrugged. He’d work on changing Roy’s mind if the situation ever came up.
Once inside, the two paramedics were amazed at the number of bargain hunters. Most were women, which wasn’t a surprise since they tended to be the budgeters of families anyway.
“So what’re you s’posed to buy?”
Roy let go of the handle of his shopping cart and pointed to a large grated bin that was now only half filled with packages of bows.
“A few of those, some wrapping paper, gift boxes, Christmas cards. . .that sort of stuff. We don’t really need any of that yet, but she likes to get things a few years ahead of time. You know, stock up.”
Johnny noted a sign hanging on the bin as they approached.
“It’s a sale.”
“Yeah but ten cents? A dime? That’s it? I may just buy a bag myself!”
Gage looked at him in puzzlement. “Whataya’ mean, ‘for what’? What else do ya buy bows for besides presents?”
“You really think you’re going to give away enough to warrant a whole bag full?”
The younger man scowled. Sure, he was known for being thrifty . . .sometimes what some would even call ‘cheap’. But Roy didn’t have to be so blunt. Besides. . .
“I give gifts at Christmas,” he defended. “Maybe not a bunch, but I can be as generous as the next guy.”
“Yeah, if the next guy is Jack Benny.”
“Oh, very funny.”
Roy reached in past a few ladies and grabbed a few of the bags. Johnny picked out his one and silently followed on to the wrapping paper, the handie talkie in his other hand.
There wasn’t a lot of gift wrap left to choose from.
“Man, no wonder it’s almost gone,” Johnny observed. “It’s only a dollar for four rolls! Roy, these are incredible prices!”
“I know. I suppose you’re going to get some of these too?”
“Well, I gotta have somethin’ to put on the presents before the bows, now don’t I?”
Roy motioned for him to toss his stuff into the cart. Gage complied.
“But you’re paying for your own.”
“Of course,” he shrugged. “ ’Course.”
Soon they were on their way down another aisle where gift boxes were in an eight foot section of shelving. Most of the space was empty, but there was still a little bit of a selection.
Roy had just put some in his cart when the two men heard a yell.
“Gloria! Please, someone help!”
They immediately abandoned the cart and ran toward the distressed woman’s voice.
“Please someone! Something’s wrong! Something’s wrong!”
Johnny and Roy now raced to where some shoppers had gathered either in stunned silence or with no idea what to do. The woman continued with her frantic cries.
“Someone help her, please!”
Roy made his way past the onlookers, Johnny right behind him.
As soon as they were clear, they saw a lady in her fifties laid out on the floor, another close to the same age beside her. The downed woman had panic in her eyes, her mouth open, and she wasn’t making a sound. As they moved in, Johnny brought the handie talkie up and pressed the transmit button.
“LA Dispatch, Squad 51.”
“Go ahead, 51.”
“We have a still alarm at twenty three thirty Breyerson Drive, request an ambulance at this location.”
There wasn’t time nor a need to ask the friend many questions. They’d seen this situation enough to know what was going on.
“Peppermint,” Roy said as soon as he was beside the victim. He could smell it near her mouth. He reached in and as far down her throat as he could with two fingers.
“Was she sucking on a candy?” Johnny questioned.
“Yes___yes,” her friend answered with a nod. “A peppermint one. She’d just put it in.”
They’d need the biophone to contact a doctor at Rampart General Hospital, as well as the oxygen and other medical supplies in their truck. But for now getting the airway clear was top priority.
Roy pulled his fingers out, the candy was still stuck in her airway.
Johnny rolled the victim onto her right side and gave a sharp hit to her back between the shoulder blades with the heel of his right hand. What a relief it was when Roy then reached in her mouth and pulled out the dislodged peppermint.
“I’ll get the stuff outta the squad,” Johnny said as he quickly got to his feet. One of the owners of the store followed him out to see if he could be of any help.
Roy immediately went to work on the nearly unconscious victim as best he could without any equipment.
The paramedics exited through the automatic doors of Rampart and headed for their squad close by. They’d gotten their patient to the hospital via ambulance and left her in the care of Doctor Brackett. She’d remain there under observation until the following day, but was expected to be fine.
Once inside the squad, Johnny glanced at Roy.
“Back to the Christmas Cottage?”
Roy let out a sigh. “Sure. Maybe someone pushed our cart aside and it’ll be waiting for us. If not, I guess we’ll just have to start over again.”
Johnny nodded in agreement. They hadn’t finished their shopping, so if the cart was gone, they’d only have to backtrack a little.
When they got back to the store, the paramedics looked around with slack jaws.
“I don’t believe it,” Johnny stated.
“Neither do I.”
Roy and Johnny made their way through all the aisles that were now empty of shoppers, except for a few here and there. The shelves and bins were wiped out in most cases, just a few select ornaments, packages of tinsel and boxes of cards remained, none of which Joanne would approve of.
“I can’t believe this is it.”
“Where’d it all go? They couldn’ta cleaned out the place already!” Johnny said in denial. “I mean, it’s not like we were gone that long!”
A sixty-seven year old man who was one of the owners of the store came up behind the two and placed a hand on each of their shoulders.
“I’m sorry, gentlemen, but you missed out. We got really busy once you left and as you can see, our inventory is just about depleted. I guess word about our annual sale has gotten out. We won’t re-stock until we open again next October.”
“But what about our cart?” Roy wondered, still in disbelief people would just take what they’d selected.
“If we’d known which one it was, we might’ve been able to pull it aside. But since we didn’t, we couldn’t hold any merchandise. It’s against our policy. We found that only causes arguments and fights. Not something we want going on in our store at all. I’m sure you understand.”
Roy admitted he understood perfectly what the man was saying, as Johnny gave the situation thought.
“You know, Roy,” Johnny finally said, his eyes narrowed.
“I think I do.”
“So we’ll see you gentlemen again next year?”
Roy gave a wave in acknowledgment. The owner looked on as the paramedics exited the store.
Soon they were on their way, both knowing that saving a little money was only worth so much. But saving a life? Priceless.
This was inspired by our 'after Christmas habit' of buying clearance stuff and our daughter saying, "You'd save more if you didn't buy anything." Originally that was my idea, but the characters changed it on me. They know themselves better than anyone, eh? :o) I love these characters dearly. They are so much fun just to spend time with. :o)
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