The $cheme of Things


Audrey W.





Johnny hung the receiver back in the cradle of the phone in the dayroom, a devious grin on his face.  He turned around and walked to the counter where he had left his cup of coffee.  Picking it up and taking a sip, he looked over at his partner sitting at the table.


“Well, aren’t you gonna ask me what that was all about?”


“Nope,” Roy replied, picking up the newspaper on the table and holding it in front of his face.


Johnny’s smile faded to a look of disappointment. “Why not?”


“Because,” Roy began, as he pulled the paper down to expose his eyes, “I saw the look on your face and that usually means it’s gonna cost me money or a lot of runnin’ around.”


Roy lifted the paper back up to cover his face. Maybe if Johnny couldn’t see him, he’d drop the subject.


“Cost you money…Cost you money?” Johnny was shocked. “Roy, this deal is gonna make you money.” He paused, considering what Roy had said. “Besides, when have I ever cost you money? The hot dog stand you were so worried about burned down before we had a chance to buy it. If we had acted on it sooner, we might have been able to prevent that fire. How about that for thought, huh?” Johnny leaned back, taking another sip of coffee, and feeling assured he had made a good point.


Roy pulled the paper down below eye level again. “You aren’t gonna drop this, are you?”


“Just hear me out, Roy,” Johnny said as he put the coffee cup on the counter and his hand to his chest. “I promise you, you won’t regret it.”


“Won’t regret what?” Chet asked as he and Marco entered the dayroom.


Chet pulled out a chair and sat down, folding his hands on the table. Marco followed in mock imitation.


“Go on, Gage. We’re ready for this,” Chet said, falsely looking sincere.


Much to Chet’s dismay, Johnny grinned.


“Well, good! I’m glad you all are interested,” Johnny said.


In what?” Chet asked.


Johnny pulled out a chair next to Roy and slid into the seat. Leaning with his elbows on the table, he began to explain.


“Look, there’s this guy in my apartment complex that knows a deal to make extra money…lots of extra money.”


“So do I,” Chet answered, “We could sell our bodies to beautiful, willing ladies. But I think the department would frown on it.”


Johnny scowled at Chet. “Nah…not…oh never mind.” He took a deep breath, sighing. “Just listen a minute, okay?”


Chet and Marco both nodded. Roy looked at the three firemen and rolled his eyes.


The three of them on a plan is down right scary.


“Okay, “ Johnny began again, his fingertips together. “This guy in my apartment complex found this new deal where you just have to buy a hundred dollars in cleaning supplies at cost to start and you sell them to others at retail, and get ten people to sign up in the program as dealers under you and you can make a fortune.” Johnny’s hands waved around as he talked.


Roy eyed his partner hesitantly. 


“His name is Toby Daniels,” Johnny continued. “And he knows a guy who bought a brand new truck with the money he made, and the money is still coming in. And that guy knows a guy who made enough to pay off his house!” Johnny sat back, his arms folded across his chest. “So, tell me, does that sound like a bad deal?”


Chet and Marco both looked at one another, their eyebrows raised.


“It sounds too good to be true,” Marco said, simply, looking across the table at Johnny.


Chet nodded in agreement. “Besides, where do the ten people come from?”


Johnny leaned forward again. “Gentlemen, gentlemen. It’s simple. You just ask people you work with and people you see everyday.”


“Yeah, but Gage…you’re forgetting one thing. We are the ones we work with. And there’s just six of us,” Chet pointed out. “And if we all get in on it, how can we get anyone at work under us?” Chet moved his finger between him and Marco for emphasis.


Johnny looked unsure, then grinned. “Other shifts. Other stations. Rampart. Guys, the list is endless.”


“I don’t know, Johnny,” Marco said, shaking his head. “My momma always told me to be careful of get-rich-quick-schemes.”


“Marco, it’s not a--”


The tones sounded, as a call came in for the squad.


Johnny got up from his seat, and trotted towards the door, looking back over his shoulder. “Just think about it, guys!”


He nearly ran into Mike who was just coming in the door.



$ $ $ $ $ $



Johnny saw that the engine was still in when he and Roy returned from the call. He quickly got out of the squad and headed for the dayroom. He had tried to talk to Roy about this new idea for making money, but Roy had just responded with disinterested uh-huh’s and uh-uh’s.


Johnny whistled as he walked into the dayroom. He looked around at the guys, who were now watching television.


“So, you guys decide on what we were talking about?”


“Yeah,” Chet said, “When you get rich, let us know. Then we’ll know that it works.”


“Suit yourself, “ Johnny responded. “Mike, they…uh…tell you about my money making idea?”


“Yeah, Johnny. But I’ll pass.”


Johnny glanced over at Captain Stanley, a curious expression on his face. “Cap?”


The Captain held up his hands, shaking his head. “Sorry, pal, but I’ll pass. I had a hard enough time helping my daughters get their quota of Girl Scout cookies sold when they were little. A fire station captain I am. A salesman, I am not.”


Johnny looked away and frowned, trying to hide his disappointment. “Okay. No problem.”


Roy grinned as he walked up to his partner. “There went four of the ones you thought you’d get under you. Now what?”


“Plan B.”


“Plan B?”


“Sure. Plan B.” Johnny looked curiously at Roy. “Everyone has a plan B. I thought for sure you’d know that.”


Roy shook his head, and walked over the refrigerator. He opened the door and pulled out a carton of milk. “Want some?”  He offered Johnny.


“Nah,” Johnny waved him off. “I’m gonna go to the dorm and think about plan B.”



$ $ $ $ $ $



In the late afternoon, the squad went out on another call. It was for a man who’d fallen off of a roof while trying to install a television antenna.  Johnny and Roy now had the man at Rampart Emergency, safely in Doctor Brackett’s care. Roy had gone in with the patient. Shortly thereafter he came out of the room only to find his partner sulking at Dixie’s desk.


“I take it Dixie said no.”


“Yep,” Johnny nodded slowly. “Morton said no, Early said no, Sharon said no, Betty said n--”


“You already asked that many people?” Roy interrupted. “I was only in the room with the patient for six minutes.”


“Well, I barely got anything out and they said no,” Johnny shrugged.


“So now is there a plan C?”


“No. Just more to plan B.”


“You know, I don’t see what you’re worried about. I mean, if you’re not out any money yet, what’s the rush…” Roy trailed off. “You…aren’t out…money…are you?”


“No, I’m not out money. I did buy my hundred dollars worth of cleaning supplies, but I’m not out money. I…I just gotta sell ‘em and get ten people signed up. That’s all,” Johnny shrugged, grinning and shaking his head.


“What’s with the ten people, anyway?”


“You get paid a bonus every time someone under you buys more supplies to re-stock their inventory.”


“Ah, I see. And this Tony guy got you and nine others to sign up under him.”


Toby…it’s Toby Daniels. And I know he got me. I don’t know if he got anyone else.”


“Well, partner, I hope you can come out of this one okay.”


“Yeah. Me too. I could take out ten women on a hundred dollars,” Johnny said solemnly. “Not all at once, ofcourse,” he quickly added, as he snorted.



$ $ $ $ $ $



It was the next shift and a very happy Johnny walked into the locker room, opening his locker door. He pulled his shirt out of his corduroy pants and started to unbutton it.


Marco and Roy were both still in the process of getting changed and gave the young paramedic a curious glance.


“Well?” Roy finally asked. “You gonna tell us how your money making deal is going?”


“Oh, I’m done with that,” Johnny said, now pulling on his uniform pants, his blue shirt hanging open.


“Neighbors wouldn’t go for it?”


“Well, remember when you asked me at Rampart if Toby already had ten people?”




“Well, he did,” Johnny buttoned up his shirt. “He had more than ten. He had everyone he and I knew at the apartment complex who would be interested in the deal.”


“Is that allowed?” Marco asked.


“Sure,” Johnny answered casually. “You can actually get as many as you want. Just has to be at least  ten to get started.”


“So you’re out a hundred dollars.” Roy said flatly.


“No, I’m not. I’m actually ahead a hundred.”



“You know my hundred dollars in cleaning supplies?”


Both men nodded, Marco mostly because he wanted to know how Johnny faired in this deal.


“Well, my landlady needed most of the supplies anyway, so I sold them to her just slightly below retail, which brought it to two hundred dollars even. So, I made my hundred back and profited a hundred.



“You lucked out there, Junior,” Roy commented. “I take it you’re gonna stay clear of easy money schemes?”


“Are you kidding? Roy, I made a hundred dollars on my day off. How much did you make?”


“None, but I wasn’t in--”


“Well, there ya go. These money making deals aren’t all that bad.” Now fully dressed in uniform, Johnny tapped his Smokey Bear poster and shut his locker door. He walked out of the locker room, leaving behind a bewildered Roy and Marco.


“If I ever figure him out, Marco, I’m gonna be scared.”


“If any of us figure Johnny out, Roy, believe me, we’ll all be scared.


And with that the two men exited the locker room, being careful to avoid Johnny and his money-making schemes for the rest of the shift.








Thanks again to Kenda for the beta read! This is dedicated to all the people who have seen others have success at making extra money, only to find the market is saturated by the time you get into it and it just goes nowhere for you. And, yes, that has included myself a time or two.  <G>