By Audrey W.
“Hey, did ya see this?” John Gage said as he read over a section of the morning newspaper.
Roy DeSoto glanced in Gage’s direction from where he sat at the table in the dayroom of Station 51.
“Maybe if you give me a hint what it is, I can answer that.”
Chet Kelly and Marco Lopez looked at one another from opposite ends of the couch nearby against a wall and traded grins.
“This!” Johnny said, excitement in his voice as he pointed firmly to an article in the paper. “There’s gonna be an attempt to set a world record for the most people in one phone booth tomorrow and they’re wantin’ anyone interested to show up. Over by the Carson Mall,” he added.
“Well, since we won’t be on duty, thus there’s not a chance we’ll have to be the ones to pull them out once they get stuck, I say more power to ‘um.”
“Roy,” he groaned, “Don’tcha see? This could be our chance to get in the record books! It’s happenin’ in our own backyard.”
“You live in an apartment. You don’t have a back yard.”
Gage frowned. “You know what I mean.”
“Yes, I do. And while I’m all for people supporting each other, that’s a little too close of quarters for me.”
“Ah man, c’mon.”
Chet set his section of newspaper down on the couch.
“John, the only records you’re on track to set are the thickest medical file at Rampart and most times dumped or turned down by the nurses there.”
Johnny scooted his chair to face sideways, then sat back with a smug grin on his face.
“For your information, Chet, I happen to be seein’ a nurse right now.”
Chet looked around the room. “I think all you’re seeing are things. There’s no nurse in here.”
“Chet, you know what I mean. I’ve been on three dates with ‘er so far and we’ve got a fourth one comin’ up at the end of the week.”
Chet raised his eyebrows and looked at Roy for verification.
“He’s telling the truth. Her name’s Cherry.”
Chet waved it off and got to his feet. He reached in his pocket and pulled out his wallet.
“I’ll bet you a dollar,” he said to Johnny, “that you don’t make it to that phone booth and that Cherry cancels before your date.”
Johnny eyed the dollar bill that was in front of his face in Chet’s hand.
“How ‘bout it?” The mustached fireman egged on.
Johnny looked at the others, their attention on him as they waited. “You’re on,” he agreed. He shook hands with Chet. “A dollar.”
“This is gonna be the easiest dollar I’ve ever made,” Chet mumbled as he put his back in his wallet.
Johnny carefully tore the article out of the paper and stuffed it in his shirt pocket after folding it. He wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. No way.
The next day, Roy and Chet stopped by Dixie McCall’s desk as soon as they’d arrived at Rampart. It was a familiar feeling since they’d done the exact same thing just a year earlier after Johnny had been bitten by a rattlesnake and was hospitalized for a couple of days.
“Well, if it isn’t one of my favorite paramedics and firemen,” the head nurse said with a smile.
“Hey, Dix,” Roy returned.
“I take it you’re here to see our favorite patient?”
“No, we’re here to see Gage,” Chet teased.
Roy shook his head and grinned. “After four years of working together, they still won’t admit life wouldn’t be the same without each other.”
Dixie’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “He’s in Room 240.”
Roy turned and headed for the elevator, Chet right beside him.
Johnny set a glass of water he’d been sipping from on a tray table in front of him when the door to his room opened. He smiled when he saw who his visitors were.
“How’re you doing?” Roy asked as he took in how gingerly his partner moved when he shifted his position on the bed.
They’d been sent to a structure fire the day before and had just gotten a victim out of the building when a sudden blast within it rocked the ground. A couple of firemen from another station had lost hold of their hose and the wildly snaking nozzle end struck Johnny in the ribcage before the pressure was turned off. At the same time debris from the blast had come flying over and at the ducking men. Johnny got the worst of it when a large chunk of wood hit him directly on his helmet-covered head and left the then soaked paramedic laid out on the ground dazed. The injuries landed the him in the hospital for at least a few days, mostly for three fractured ribs. He had added more to that ever growing medical file Chet mentioned before.
“Well, I was doing better,” Gage said sarcastically, with a slight nod toward Kelly. Slight was all he wanted to move at the moment. He was still experiencing some occasional faint dizziness due to the concussion from the day before.
“Why do I feel under appreciated?” Chet remarked.
“Do you wanna answer that for ‘im?”
Roy grinned in amusement at the exchanges. “So I guess your date with Cherry is off, huh?”
“Well, I’d say someone owes me some mula,” Chet put in. “Wouldn’t ya say, Roy? He’s obviously not at the phone booth today and you just brought up the other part of the bet.”
Johnny’s mouth dropped open as his partner agreed.
“Now wait a minute, the deal was Cherry had to break up with me before the date. We didn’t break up, we postponed it.”
Chet shook his head. “We agreed she’d cancel before the date.”
“Okay. . .well. . .so. . .?”
“So which one of ya was the first one to bring up going out later?”
Johnny frowned. “All right. She did.” After a pause, he added, “Man, I can’t believe you. You’d actually take money from a guy while he’s down?”
“A bet’s a bet.” Chet held out his right hand. “Now pay up.”
“Now? I don’t have my wallet on me!”
“But it’s in the closet in your pants pocket, right?”
There was no getting away from it.
“Roy, would you. . .?” Gage said as he motioned with his left hand toward the closet.
The senior paramedic did as requested. He then handed the wallet to Johnny to do the honors. However, there wasn’t much Gage could do.
“Um. . .could I borrow a dollar?” he asked as he closed his moneyless wallet.
“You don’t even have a dollar?” Chet smirked.
“I didn’t get a chance ta go to the bank. I kinda had an unexpected problem come up,” he said, his arms spread out. It was a motion he regretted right away.
“Who needs to go to the bank for a dollar?” Then the mustached fireman recalled Johnny had a thrifty side to him. He wasn’t one to run to the bank as soon as he got low on cash, but rather wait for awhile. “Never mind.”
Roy opened his own wallet and handed Chet the money while he asked Gage, “How come every time you lose a bet, I come out a little lighter in the pocket?”
“Hey, how’a bout we bet on how long it’ll take ya to pay Roy back?”
Chet cringed when he got a firm ‘No’ in unison from the paramedic partners.
It was apparent the 'buck would stop' there.
*Click above to send Audrey feedback
December Picture 2007 Stories Page