Thanks For The . . .Memories?
By Audrey W.
Captain Stanley gathered the crew of A-shift together in the dayroom after a long day of going out on several runs. It was almost midnight on New Year’s Eve and the men were finally able to relax with some down time. The captain hoped it would last long enough for them to celebrate the New Year’s arrival.
Hank would have preferred to be able to share a bottle of champagne with his men, but headquarters didn't allow alcohol in the stations for any reason. So after handing each man a glass of Ginger Ale, the captain lifted his beverage to a toast.
“Here’s to a happy new year for everyone. And for something a little different, how about we each give thanks for something that’s gone exceptionally well in a previous year.”
“Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is for, Cap?”
“Kelly, I’m trying to make this a special New Year’s Eve for us, since we have to be on duty. Work with me here, will ya?”
“Oh. . .okay. . .so we just think of anything memorable that’s gone good in the past and bring it up?”
The stocky fireman shrugged. “I got a red flyer wagon for my fifth birthday. That was pretty cool.” He noticed the captain and others staring at him, dumbfounded expressions on their faces. “What?”
“A little more recent than that,” Stanley clarified. “And maybe a little bigger?”
“I’ll go,” Marco said, raising his free hand as if in a classroom.
Captain Stanley nodded for him to go ahead.
“How about when they found a cure for that monkey virus when Johnny was so sick a few years ago? Without the cure, he would’ve died. So that’s something to be thankful for.”
Surprised, Gage grinned. “Thanks, Marco.” He patted the Hispanic fireman on the back.
“Okay, I get it now,” Chet said, nodding. “I’m thankful we got Gage to the hospital in time to get the antivenin when the rattlesnake bit him.”
“Or the time that the car hit him. . .it’s a good thing Early and Morton were able to find where the bleeding was coming from,” Roy put in. “I’m glad it wasn’t any worse than it was.”
“Don’t forget the time Johnny got too much radiation at that lab,” Mike offered. “That could’ve been a lot worse, too.”
Captain Stanley stood watching and listening, not sure what to say. It wasn’t quite what he’d intended, but at the same time he hated to put a stop to it. His men were on a roll and seemed to be getting something out of the current conversation. All except Gage. Hank noticed the dark-haired paramedic was speechless, his mouth hanging open as he looked from one shiftmate to the next.
“Oh, and don’t forget the time Johnny was trapped in that old warehouse that was set to blow up at two o’clock,” Roy continued. “That was a close call.”
“Or the time the staircase busted and he fell to the floor with the baby. . .”
“Cap,” Johnny groaned. “You too? C’mon, guys, you see a trend here? I’m not the only one who has things happen to him ya know.”
The others waited in silence for the paramedic to continue.
“What about Roy when he got the cobra venom in his eyes?”
“Minor stuff,” DeSoto replied, shrugging. “Besides, you washed it right out. No big deal.”
“No big. . .? Roy, it was. . .oh never mind. But,” the younger man continued, “what about when you were electrocuted? Now that was a close call.”
Roy shook his head.
“No? Whatayamean . . .no?”
“Karen got me right back. It wasn’t like you, where we had to wait on pins and needles to see if you were gonna survive.”
Johnny looked at the others nodding in agreement. “Wait a minute. What about when Cap got electrocuted? Or Marco?”
The others shook their heads.
“No one came close to dying,” Chet explained.
“And what about when you were thrown a distance by that explosion at that doorway?”
“My ears were ringing, but I was still okay.”
Gage frowned. “C’mon, guys. I haven’t had that many serious close calls. . .have I?”
“Often enough,” Mike answered. “Face it, Johnny, you’re practically wearing a bulls-eye on you every shift. Stuff always happens to you.”
“Well, maybe I’m. . .I’m. . .more adventurous. . .look, we’re supposed to be toasting what we’re thankful for, not the life and death injuries of John Gage.”
“Before you go getting any more upset, think about this,” Hank Stanley reminded the dark-haired paramedic. “What it boils down to is that these guys are glad you’re here tonight to ring in another year. We all are. It’s not quite what I had in mind, but hey. . .I’d take it and be happy, pal.”
Johnny looked around at the others. “Yeah?”
The crew nodded.
“Well, okay. . .” he agreed hesitantly. “But I think you’ve brought up enough close calls involving me. . .I have had a few successful times on duty, ya know.”
“Yeah, after all, he did get out of that tunnel collapse alive after several hours,” Mike reminded everyone.
Johnny rolled his eyes and shook his head. It was hopeless. He had been in the most critical situations and no one was going to forget that soon.
“Hey, it’s one minute to midnight,” Marco pointed out.
As the seconds wound down, the men counted until the New Year arrived.
“Happy New Year!” Six men echoed to each other.
“Oh, and, Gage. . .” Chet raised his glass in a toast. “May you not see any snakes, speeding cars, stuck elevators, collapsed tunnels, or mysterious viruses in the year to come.”
“Chet!” Johnny said, annoyed, then a crooked grin spread across the man’s face. “Thanks.” He looked at the others gathered around and raised his glass of Ale. “And here's hoping for a happy and safe new year for all of us. Happy New Year, guys.”
Thanks for the beta read, Kenda, and for the help with an ending line. :o)
Happy New Year!