So Much for That
(A follow-up to the episode ‘Heavy Weight’)
By Audrey W.
John Gage put down what remained of his large hoagie-shaped sandwich and stared at the leftovers on his plate in disgust. Though he’d tried time and again over the past month, he never could get the final few bites in without feeling like they, plus what he’d already eaten, were going to come back up.
About a month earlier Johnny had been told by Doctor Morton at Rampart General Hospital that he was a little ‘soft ‘ in regards to being in shape after he’d pulled the deltoid muscle in his right shoulder by helping to move a bookcase during a fire. As a result of the comment, Johnny had started eating what most everyone else he knew at Station 51 considered huge submarine sandwiches on a regular basis. But what he’d told them was that it was an ancient tribe recipe with secret ingredients that was handed down from one generation to the next. An old Indian who’d supposedly lived to be 114 years old had given it to him.
Of course, John had to let the guys on his shift know that the Indian only died at that age by getting hit by a bus on his way home from a girlfriend’s house at three o’clock in the morning. Otherwise eating the sandwiches had made him so healthy, that he’d still be alive if not for that bus.
They had shrugged it off as a ridiculous story, but he’d still kept up with the history and sandwiches despite his crewmates thinking the whole thing was a put-on.
Though John considered himself as being ‘skinny but tough’, he figured it certainly couldn’t hurt to eat the healthy sandwiches for good measure.
Anything to avoid being evaluated by Morton again.. .
Sitting alone at the table in the dayroom long after the rest of the crew had finished their lunch of chicken salad sandwiches, he pushed the plate away. He then covered his mouth with his right hand as he let out a silent burp.
“Ah, that’s better.”
He almost felt like he could eat more.
Almost. . .
“You know, children are starving in China.”
John looked toward the doorway, where his partner Roy DeSoto had just come back into the room.
“Don’t tell me that line works on your kids. . .”
“No. But I’ve said it so many times with them, it’s the first thing. . .the only thing. . .that comes to mind when I see food being wasted.”
Johnny cracked a crooked grin and reached out. He slid the plate with leftover sandwich to the end of the table near where Roy was standing now.
“I’ll pass. I’m not a kid and I’m certainly not in China.”
Gage smiled smugly.
“What I don’t get,” Roy went on as he opened the refrigerator and reached for the carton of milk, “is why you’re still eating those things. Usually you’d be on to something else by now.”
John looked up sharply at him, a mock hurt expression on his face. He turned in his seat, his gaze following the older paramedic as DeSoto walked over and placed the milk on the counter, then took a clean glass from a cupboard nearby.
“Roy! I’ll have you know these sandwiches could very well be what’re keepin’ me outta Rampart. . .as a patient, that is.”
“You really believe that?”
“Well, maybe not entirely. I mean some of it’s obviously my skill. Otherwise I’da been there on a regular basis the past few years. But--”
“Most of it, I’d say is skill. And a little luck.”
“Okay, so luck. . .yeah, that can play into it, too. . .I was lucky to get outta that auto shop fire a coupla weeks ago before the explosion. And I was very fortunate not to still be in that car when it went over the edge of the canyon right after we got the driver out. . .skill and luck.” He held up the plate with the remaining sandwich. “But maybe this helped give me the stamina to run outta that building as fast as I did. Maybe it gave me the strength to scramble away from that car as it moved with the shift in weight.”
Roy took a sip of the milk that he’d poured into the glass as he sat down across from his partner.
“That sandwich has as much bearing on those things as this would,” he said with an indication of the white liquid.
“Well, they do say milk--”
Johnny was cut off by the klaxons.
“Station 51, Engine 8, Engine 45, structure fire, 3422 South Hale Street, three four two two South Hale Street, cross street Citrus Lane. Time out 13:25.”
The two paramedics abandoned their items at the table and scrambled for their squad. The engine crew came from other parts of the station headed toward the engine.
As he drove the squad into the street, Roy briefly wondered if maybe he should’ve bought into the old sandwich recipe theory for the past month for good measure.
Captain Stanley immediately gathered information from a few people gathered outside and away from the burning convenience store. He then directed his men, though Chet and Marco were already in the process of rolling out the hose they’d be using. Marco hooked it up to a nearby fire hydrant while the captain informed Chet they’d be covering Johnny and Roy.
He’d already told the paramedics to make a quick sweep of the building since it was impossible to verify that all the customers had gotten out.
The other engines arrived along with a police officer soon afterward. In seconds, all the fire fighters were involved in the battle against the flames.
Roy hated going into structure fires where aisles were present; the added obstacles with the numerous counters made searching that much more difficult, and that much more dangerous. He and Johnny stayed close to one another as they made a quick but efficient search.
“Anyone here?!” Johnny glanced around through his air mask in the smoke-darkened building, his flashlight nearly useless. “They may’ve passed out by now if anyone is in here,” he said to Roy beside him. The latter nodded in agreement. Since no one had responded to their numerous calls, it was likely.
They proceeded on to a fourth aisle, leaning over to be closer to the floor. Both men were feeling the heat from the interior flames that were toward the back of the building. The progress of the fire had been slowed by the other fire fighters, but no one was out of danger yet.
Finally with the fifth aisle over, the paramedics found a victim. Just as they’d suspected, she’d passed out from smoke inhalation. Roy helped Johnny get the gray-haired lady over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry, then followed the younger man out, the woman’s purse in his right hand.
Once in the open outdoors, they headed for their squad. Captain Stanley helped Roy lay a yellow safety blanket on the ground, then Johnny carefully set his charge down, lying the still unconscious woman out on the blanket.
Roy got eight liters of oxygen going on her while his partner removed his own helmet and air mask, then shrugged off his air tanks. Gage then checked the patient’s vitals while Roy removed his own SCBA equipment. In the meantime, a police officer and Captain Stanley quickly searched the victim’s purse contents for information concerning her identity and possible chronic medical conditions.
“Margaret Billford, just had her fifty-fifth birthday” Hank announced after a very brief time. “Nothing to indicate she’s got any medical problems.”
The woman was slowly coming around as Johnny reported the information gathered to Rampart.
Another captain on scene and fireman had gone in to search for additional victims once the paramedics were on their way out, but no more were found.
It wasn’t until his partner was on the way with the victim in an ambulance that Roy realized just how wiped out the search and rescue had left him, at least for now. He was curious if Gage might be feeling the same way or if the mighty magical sandwich had made a difference.
He was sure he’d hear about it either way once they met up at Rampart.
“I’m fine,” Gage answered when Roy asked how he was doing, once Johnny had given him an update on Margaret’s condition. Johnny had met back up with his partner in the corridor outside of the treatment rooms. “What about you?”
“I’m fine, too.”
It wasn’t a lie. By the time he’d driven to Rampart and gotten more fresh air through the open windows of the squad, Roy really had felt much better and rested.
“Was that about the sandwich?”
“No. . .” But a cocked eyebrow from his partner had him reveal, “Okay, sure. I was just wondering if it did make a difference. But since we’re both fine, I guess we can’t really say it did.”
Johnny sighed. “Roy, trust me. A guy isn’t gonna live to be a hundred an’ fourteen__and still be dating, not to mention what he was probably up to in the middle of the night on some of those dates___without somethin’ extra that kept him goin’.”
He still didn’t believe the tale. But it really didn’t matter anyway. As long as Gage stayed out of Rampart as a patient, the younger man was going to keep faith in the sandwich whether it was true or not.
The following shift, Johnny ate the usual for lunch while the rest of the crew had spaghetti. He wasn’t done with his food when Captain Stanley reminded as he pushed his chair away from the table, “John, don’t forget it’s your turn to wash dishes.”
“But, Cap. I didn’t even use any of ‘um.”
“Sorry, pal, it’s not what you use. It’s how the chips fall. Your chip is up today. Not even a hunger strike is gonna get anyone out of his turn of doing the dishes.”
“I’ll dry,” Roy offered.
“Well, lemme finish eating first.”
Chet Kelly gave Johnny a pat on the back as he reassured, “Don’t worry, Gage. The way you’ve been putting away those sandwiches, you oughta have the dishes washed in half the time it would take the rest of us. . .together.”
He snickered as he put his dirty plate in the sink.
Johnny just took a big bite of his sandwich, ignoring Chet’s antics as best he could.
Shortly after they had the sink in the dayroom cleaned up, Johnny and Roy sat down to watch some TV. But they no sooner got settled when the tones sounded.
“Squad 51, man injured, 4214 North Hill Street, four two one four North Hill Street, cross street Orange Drive, time out 14:10.”
They hurried to their truck while Mike Stoker acknowledged the call at the podium in the apparatus bay.
The ‘man injured’ turned out to be a guy in his early thirties who had just helped to move a heavy mahogany wood desk into an office on the second floor of a building. He and his close friend were joining in on a bookkeeping business another friend of theirs recently started and were in the process of setting up their offices when they ran into a problem.
“I threw. . . my back out,” Wayne Iverson informed with a grimace. He was lying on the hard floor, unable to move due to the pain.
His partner, Doug Grey, looked on with worry. He wished they had waited for the business owner to show up to help. But he was already over an hour late, and there was no telling when he’d actually arrive. Both men had figured since they could use an elevator to get the furniture upstairs that they would be okay. As far as file cabinets, they’d been able to use a hand truck and the transition went smoothly. But they knew now they’d pushed their luck with the desk.
“We only had one more thing to unload off the truck after this, too.”
Wayne would have nodded in agreement with what Doug had just said, but he was afraid to move any part of his body, including his neck.
“Where exactly do you hurt?” Johnny asked.
“Lower back. I thought the floor. . .would alleviate it some . . .but getting down here. . .didn’t help matters. . .”
“Has this happened before or is this a first?” Roy questioned next.
“Once before. . .about a year ago. . .working on my car. . .”
“I’ll get the collar and backboard,” Gage said before heading out and back to the squad. In the meantime, Roy contacted Rampart on the biophone.
Johnny soon returned with the items in hand. Before long they had the victim’s neck stabilized and he was secured to the board.
Roy gave Rampart an update on the victim’s vital signs, which had improved slightly since the paramedics’ arrival.
“Sounds like the ambulance is here,” Johnny said when they heard a siren approach, then shut off. He turned to Wayne’s partner. “How about you go down and lead them up here.”
The blond man nodded. “Yeah. Sure.” He took one more glance at his injured friend, then walked out of the office.
Soon they had Mr. Iverson on a stretcher and loaded in the ambulance, which was parked a short distance behind the moving truck the men had rented. Johnny noted a metal ramp attached to it that led to the interior of the box section.
Doug noticed him eyeing the truck a moment.
“I don’t suppose you could help me move the last thing.”
The pulled deltoid muscle injury quickly came back to Gage’s mind. However, when Doug informed him it was just a copy machine and on wheels, the job seemed easy enough. Even if he hadn’t been eating the ancient recipe sandwiches, he should be able to handle that.
His brief internal debate continued with the thought that it also wasn’t like Mr. Iverson’s condition was likely to take a turn for the worse, so it wasn’t imperative that he be right behind the ambulance during transport. Also, with the copier being on wheels, it shouldn’t take very long.
His self argument over after a brief few seconds, he looked to Roy.
Roy echoed the points he’d made with himself, minus the sandwich, then finished with, “If nothing else, it might save us a trip back for a second ‘man down call’ if we leave him to do it alone.”
Doug didn’t seem too pleased at that comment, but smiled when Johnny told him with a crooked grin, “Well, I guess ya got a deal.”
Roy climbed up inside the ambulance and took a seat on one of the padded benches alongside the stretcher. Gage placed the biophone and drug box on the floor inside.
“See ya at Rampart,” the younger paramedic said as he closed the rear doors.
He slapped the door twice, then stepped back as the ambulance pulled away. Johnny then turned to follow Doug up into the truck.
A brief time into the journey toward Rampart, Roy gave their decision for his partner to stay and help more thought. He tried to reassure himself they’d made the right choice.
After all, it wasn’t like Gage would end up with an arm in a sling. The copier was on wheels, so there’d be no lifting. Then again, wheels had a way of running over things. . .
Like feet. . .
He hoped he wouldn’t see Johnny come limping into Rampart later.
Doug and Johnny both put on work gloves before they got started. They then rolled the large copy machine down the ramp, both controlling the speed at which it went.
When they reached the sidewalk, Doug guided and pulled from the front, while his paramedic partner pushed from behind.
They struggled slightly to get it over the door jam and inside. But once that was accomplished it was smooth rolling across the tiled floor to the elevator.
Doug pushed the button and the doors opened. But before either man could move they heard a yell from the entrance of the lobby.
Roy eyed the business card Mr. Iverson had insisted he take from his shirt pocket as they continued on to Rampart.
“If you ever need. . .a bookkeeper for a business. . .look me up.”
Roy smiled slightly. “Sure.”
The way his partner had a way of getting hooked on ideas for extra income and wanting to drag him in, there was always a chance he’d need the services. Although Gage’s ideas hadn’t really panned out yet, if he kept it up, sooner or later one was bound to.
“I also do income taxes.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Now Roy had to wonder if his agreeing to let Johnny stay would lead to the younger paramedic inquiring into what it would take to get a similar business started. He could be in for a remaining shift listening to how they could and should think about doing something as well.
Of course, Roy would take that over dragging his partner into a treatment room again.
Johnny and Doug waited a moment as the late arrival hurried toward them. It was the owner of the business, Tom Jacobs.
“I’m glad I got here when I did,” he said as he reached them.
“I’d have been happier if you’d gotten here sooner,” Doug informed him.
“Better late then never, right?”
Johnny figured by the frown as a reply, Doug might be a bit regretful being any part of this guy’s business. Reliability didn’t seem to be his strong suit.
“Look,” Tom said when he saw the response. He then eyed Johnny, before returning his attention to the other. “There was no need to call the fire department. I said I’d be here to help and I am.”
“I didn’t call them for this. Wayne threw his back out again. Moving a desk.”
“Then why is. . .” Tom motioned toward Johnny.
“I just stayed behind the help,” the paramedic explained.
“Great! Now that I’m here, the three of us can get this baby upstairs,” he said with a pat on the copier, “And I know just what to do.”
Doug and Johnny exchanged puzzled glances. They seemed to be doing just fine without the third helper. But they waited while he went into a downstairs room, then came out with two wide flat masonite wood boards, one in each hand.
The other two watched as he brought them over then stepped past the copier and Doug, awkwardly handling the boards in the process.
“What’re those for?” Doug wondered.
“To make it easier to get this thing into the elevator.”
“I can kind of lift--”
But Doug cut himself off when Tom squatted down to put the boards in place.
Johnny wasn’t so sure the late arrival was all that much of a help. He figured he and Doug could’ve had the machine upstairs by now if they’d just been left alone.
“Okay, it’s a go,” Tom said. He stood up and stepped back into the elevator car.
Doug wore an aggravated look as he gave a nod toward Johnny. The latter placed his gloved hands on the copier, his palms against the back, fingers on the sides as he readied to push. A top edge of trim hung out just slightly on the machine and Johnny's right index finger rested there.
The ambulance arrived at Rampart, and when the rear doors opened, the stretcher carrying the victim was unloaded. Roy then jumped down from the open back end and followed his charge into the ER.
The senior paramedic figured by the time he turned Wayne over to a doctor, it shouldn’t be a long before Johnny got there.
Doug pulled the copier as Johnny gave a strong shove. Both men were caught off guard when the front of the copier immediately shot to the left as it moved forward; the backside slammed to the right, against the edge of an open elevator door.
Johnny’s mouth dropped open in a silent gasp as he felt a very sharp quick pain shoot through his right hand. In the same instant the rear of the copier bounced off the door from the impact. Gage immediately pulled his gloved hand off the equipment and held his arm by the wrist as a string of swear words ran through his mind. One made it out.
“Shit. . .” He murmured between gritted teeth.
Doug left the copier as it was and scrambled past it to see how his helper was.
“Are you okay?”
Johnny saw blood already soaking through the material of his glove where the tip of his right index finger was.
“Not exactly,” he said with a shake of his head, his teeth still gritted.
Damn it hurts! Man. . .
Tom had stepped forward and squatted to look closer at the boards. They’d shifted underneath the copier. It was already clear to him what had gone wrong. Unsecured, they’re movement had caused the machine front to pull to the left instead of going straight.
No one else knew at the moment. Doug was already by his temporary helper.
“Oh my God, did it cut your finger tip off?”
Johnny moved his still glove-covered finger, though very slightly. The fact it still worked was a good sign. “Nah.”
He slowly pulled off the glove with his left hand, which also still was covered. Much to his relief, the upper portion of his index finger was just split open. Unfortunately, from what he could see through the blood, that split started at the tip of his finger and ended just slightly above the first joint from the top. The opening was at least three quarters of an inch long.
“I’ve got a first aid kit in the squad. I’ll just clean it up, put a coupla butterfly bandages on it and wrap it in gauze. That should take care of it.” He hoped anyway.
“I’ll be back,” Doug called out over his shoulder to Tom as he followed Johnny toward the exit.
Tom still didn’t say anything about what had happened. Now standing, he just nodded as he again glanced down at the front copier wheels.
“It had to be those damn boards,” Doug said while he walked alongside Johnny. He noticed droplets of blood on Johnny’s left glove. The paramedic had it underneath his right hand to apparently keep the blood from getting on the interior floor.
“I think so, too. But it doesn’t matter now.” The two stepped outside and continued on toward the trucks. “Jus’ be careful with that guy helpin’. He may know somethin' about numbers, but that doesn’t mean he’s up on common sense.”
“Don’t worry. I will,” Doug assured.
They arrived at the squad, where Johnny grabbed the first aid kit from one of the compartments. He had Doug pull off his left glove by the finger tips, and drop it on the passenger side floor of the squad, bloodied side up. Gage then cleaned up the split. He took note of the jagged pattern, like it had literally ripped open. He sprayed antiseptic on it, a grimace on his face, then bandaged up his finger with some assistance. It still hurt like hell, but he was just going to have to deal with the pain.
“Ya know, I could probably still help now, as long as I keep pressure off my finger.”
Doug shook his head. “Not a chance. We’ve taken up your time enough as it is.” He eyed the white bandaging. “Except I guess we also kind of ended your day, huh?”
“I’ll manage,” he assured with a slight grin, his eyes narrowed in the sunlight.
Johnny put the first aid kit away, then climbed in on the driver’s side of the squad. With a quick wave of the right hand, he pulled away and headed off toward Rampart. He wondered what Roy was going to say when he got there.
About halfway to the hospital, Johnny noticed blood seeping through the gauze bandaging. It wasn’t a lot yet, but considering he was practically driving one-handed, leaving his right alone as much as possible, it was becoming clear it was going to take more than a two butterfly bandages to keep his wound closed. It was going to need stitches.
He suddenly got an image in his mind of Doctor Morton mending his finger, all the while talking about how it could’ve been prevented if only he’d been able to do this or that. . .
Dammit. . .
Maybe he’d luck out and get someone else. But either way, there was no escaping Roy.
DeSoto occasionally glanced in the direction of the ER entrance, where Johnny would appear around the corner of the corridor shortly after coming inside. It’d been several minutes since the senior paramedic had left Wayne with Doctor Brackett and he was growing antsy the longer he waited. They needed to make themselves available very soon, and Captain Stanley wasn’t going to appreciate it if headquarters questioned him about a delay.
The dark-haired paramedic backed the squad into a parking space near the automatic doors that led to the ER, then climbed out, his right hand still of little use. He did as much as he could with his left to keep the bleeding minimized. However, the gauze bandage was definitely bloody enough that there wouldn’t be any hiding it.
He trotted to the doors, then went inside in search of his partner, ready to face the inevitable.
Roy saw Johnny as soon as he rounded the corner. Relief spread through him when he saw that he wasn’t limping.
Guess we did okay after all. . .
But that relief vanished when he saw the crimson red soaking through the bandaging as Gage approached.
“Roy, you won’t believe this one.”
Johnny explained about Tom and how he showed up late. He mentioned the masonite boards, and what he and Doug figured had gone wrong.
“So much for skill and luck, huh?” Roy said as they went in search of help.
“Hey, that guy lacked the skill, not me.”
“And the luck?”
“Okay, that one falls on both of us.”
Roy took him by the upper left arm with a grin. “C’mon, Dix is in the nurses’ lounge. Let’s see who she can get for you.”
Johnny pulled his arm free and followed voluntarily.
“I hope I don’t get Morton.”
“Why? It’s not like you pulled a muscle again. In fact, it’s not like it was your fault at all.”
“Yeah, but I’m sure he could still find a way to use his misguided bedside manner.”
He recalled that it was Dixie who set him up to see Doctor Morton when he’d pulled his deltoid muscle. What were the odds it would happen that way again? He had one thought on it.
Don’t fail me now, Dixie. Don’t fail me now.
“There, that’s got it,” Doctor Morton said as he finished with the fourth and final stitch in Johnny’s finger. It wasn’t that Dixie had tried to get him with the young doctor. But he was the only one available for the moment.
Gage waited for a not-so-clever remark about his lack of. . .well, anything. But none came.
“Thanks,” he said as he examined the now sealed jagged split just before the doctor put a bandaid over it for added protection. “It really tore it open, huh?”
Morton shook his head. “I wouldn’t use the word ‘tore’. From what you described, more like squished and popped it. . .I’m sure you’ve squoze a grape before.”
Johnny nodded, glancing at his finger, as did Roy.
“Well, this worked much the same way. Apparently as soon as that copier smashed your finger against the elevator door, it forced all the blood to the tip and that created a tremendous pressure that caused it to pop open. You’re lucky you even have a finger left right now. I don’t know how it didn’t at least fracture, too.”
They’d witnessed and even treated some pretty nasty injuries over time, but somehow the thought of his finger opening up like that caused Johnny to give a brief shudder. Maybe since it was his finger.
He also began to wonder if this would prove to others that there really was something to the sandwiches. However being it was Morton he was dealing with, he kept it to himself.
No need to give him anymore ammunition. . .
“And here I was worried about your foot getting run over by that machine,” Roy admitted.
“Now then I might’ve had to say something,” Morton said with a slight grin. He then shifted his gaze back to his patient, who had just hopped off the exam table. “You can go back to work, just be careful with that hand for awhile. And get yourself a new pair of work gloves__ ASAP.”
“Doc, that’s gonna be my first priority.”
Morton watched as the two paramedics left the room.
His shoulder, his finger. . .what next. . .?
Hopefully it’d be awhile before that answer came.
With Roy as the writer, Johnny filled out the necessary paperwork required when there was a mishap not directly related to a rescue. Once that was complete, Roy reported them in as available.
“Ya know, I’m kinda gonna be limited for the rest of the shift,” Johnny reminded on the way out to the squad.
As well as he knew his partner, Roy had doubts on that. Being 'careful' or 'limited' after a minor injury just wasn't Gage's style. But it wouldn't hurt to play along with the conversation for now. Then remind him later if need be.
“I know. But we should have an engine crew with us on those kind of calls. We’ll manage.”
“Good deal. I think so, too.”
The automatic doors opened and the two walked out.
“Man, we still gotta explain this to Cap.”
“What do you mean ‘we’?”
Johnny shot a look of stunned surprise his way, which brought a grin to Roy’s face.
“Relax, I’m joking.”
The other sighed.
As they climbed into the squad, Roy on the driver’s side, Johnny the passenger, the former offered, “We can always tell him you found a way out of doing the dishes, at least for the next couple of shifts.”
“I don’t think he’d appreciate that.”
Captain Stanley eyed his own right index finger as Johnny again told him what had happened. Hank couldn’t imagine how much pressure the impact between the copier and elevator door had to have created. When Johnny was done, he echoed what Morton had said. “You’re lucky you didn’t lose the finger.”
Johnny held up the wounded digit and looked at it. “Tell me about it.”
He briefly thought about mentioning the sandwich idea, but somehow this didn’t seem like the appropriate time yet either.
“I understand why you stayed back to help the guy. I probably would have made sure one of us helped him if I’d have been there, too. But maybe we should all be a bit more cautious in offering an extra helping hand once the rescue itself is over.”
“Do you think any of us can stick to that?” Roy wondered.
Hank gave it a few moments of thought. With a slight smile, he had to confess, “Probably not.”
Suddenly there was a knock on the door frame. The three turned to see Chet standing in the doorway.
“Can I come in?”
Captain Stanley raised his eyebrows as he gave a questioning glance at his paramedics. Both indicated it was fine with them.
“Thanks.” He immediately walked over to Gage. “Marco said one of your fingers exploded. Are you okay?”
Johnny rolled his eyes. He and Roy had run into Marco as soon as they’d gotten back. Already the Hispanic had exaggerated his words of ‘popped’ to ‘exploded’.
“I wouldn’t say it ‘exploded’. An’ it wasn’t the whole finger.”
“Whatever,” he acknowledged as he tried to get a look. “So how did this bizarre turn of events happen?”
Johnny explained for what felt like the millionth time that day. If he had to tell one more person, he was certain his mind would explode next. . .figuratively anyway.
The following shift, Johnny was back with his wounded finger. It was healing well and in a few days Morton would be removing the stitches.
As the men sat down for lunch, bowls of Marco’s chili were placed in front of five of them. Johnny once again had one of the big sub-type sandwiches.
“I can’t believe you’re still on that kick. This has to be a record, doesn’t it guys?” Chet asked as he glanced around at the others.
“First of all, it isn’t a ‘kick’. And second of all, I’ll have you know it’s probably eatin’ these sandwiches that kept my finger from being destroyed.”
Roy couldn’t help but roll his eyes.
“You really believe that?” Mike Stoker wondered.
Feeling a sense of deja'vu with the question, Johnny paused amongst the doubtful faces. He still did to a point, but at the same time didn’t. He wanted to. Either way, the ‘did’ outweighed the didn’t.
“Yeah,” he said with a nod. “Yeah, I do.” He furrowed his brow as he took a bite of the sandwich, then shoved the food to the inside of his left cheek. “I still think it needs more mayonnaise though.”
Just as before, the engine crew and Roy were done with their meal while Johnny still sat. Nearly a quarter of his sandwich remained on his plate.
Marco and Mike had cleaned up the sink, put the dishes away and were already helping Chet to wipe down the engine.
Captain Stanley had gone to his office to look over a couple of files, while Roy sat watching television as he waited for his partner to finish lunch so they could touch up the squad with a brief cleaning.
When a slight groan was heard from the direction of the table, DeSoto turned to view its source. A very obviously miserable John Gage stared back at him.
“I can’t do it, Roy. . .I can’t keep on chowin’ these things down.”
“But I thought you said you believed in the benefits. Didn’t you just tell Mike that at lunch?”
“I know, I know.” He sat back with a still sour expression on his face, his left hand on his abdomen. “I did. And I’m sure it’s great for me; just what the ‘doctor’ ordered. There’s just one problem, Roy. There’s too much of it ta eat. Man, I’m stuffed. One more bite and I think I’m gonna be sick. If I’ve gotta feel like this every day ta live to be a hundred and fourteen, I don’t wanna get there.”
“What about a condensed version? You know, like half the size. . .”
Johnny shook his head. “Won’t work. Ya gotta get it all down, save for a coupla bites, to reap the benefits. Otherwise, it’s just another sandwich,” he shrugged. He then pushed his plate away toward the center of the table. “I think I’ll stick to just bein’ plain ol’ skinny and tough, and take my chances.”
Roy eyed the stitched finger and thought back to the pulled muscle, along with the younger man’s exposure to high radiation a few years before. Then there was the twisted knee before that, and the girdle slap to the face, beam on his leg, fall through a broken staircase banister, and that was just a few of the things that had happened to Johnny.
Yes, he was skinny and he was definitely tough. But Roy had to wonder if maybe since he was giving up the sandwich, he wouldn't want to consider a suit of armor now and then. Just in case.
This was inspired by my brother and another gnarly injury of his. I kept it pretty much how it happened in real life (not quite with all the circumstances, but some) not just because I wanted to use it on Johnny, but also because it provides for a 'what not to do' with masonite boards. My thanks to my brother for putting up with my prodding for information and allowing me to use an unfortunate experience of his. . .again. What a sport he is, huh? :o)
*Click above to send Audrey feedback