By Audrey W.
The five men watched as Roy DeSoto dumped the assortment of candy out on the table in front of them. It was the day after Halloween and the father of two had brought in his children’s ‘loot’ from the night before. With each child’s candy in a separate pile, he took a seat at the table in the dayroom beside his partner John Gage.
“So why exactly are we doin’ this now?” Chet Kelly wondered. He, along with the other three members of the engine crew, including Captain Stanley, were sitting around the rectangle shaped table with the paramedic duo.
“The kids got home too late from trick-or-treating last night for us to check over the candy. . .you know, for signs of tampering. Joanne wanted me to bring it here so they wouldn’t be in it before we had a chance to do it. She’s coming by later to pick the sacks up.”
“Didn’t ya just take ‘um to houses with the people you know?” Johnny wondered as he eyed the treats.
“Well, I’m not sure exactly which houses they went to,” Roy explained. “Our regular babysitter offered. . .well, begged. . .to take Chris and Jenny around. We kind of figured it was more of an excuse for her and a friend to trick-or-treat at fifteen, but the kids were all for it, so why not? Only thing is, you can tell a teenager to limit where they go; getting them to actually do it is another story.” He grinned at the large piles of candy. “I’d say they got a bit carried away.”
“So which pile do we start with first?”
Roy looked across to Marco. “Take your pick. As long as we try to get done before Joanne gets here, that’s all that matters.”
Each man reached for a piece of wrapped candy, the captain and Mike from Roy’s son Chris’s pile, the rest from Jennifer’s.
After turning the still enclosed candies over and over in search of any pinholes or other sign of tampering, the men plopped those in each respective bag and reached for more.
It wasn’t long before. . .
“Candy cigarettes?” Johnny held up the small cellophane wrapped pack. “You don’t want your kids ta have these do ya? I mean, they’re too young to even pretend to be smokin’.”
Roy had to agree. Chris at five and Jennifer at three. . .both too young for that kind of candy. “You’re right. I don’t. You can have that.”
Johnny shrugged with a grin as he tore off the cellophane. He then flipped opened the thin cardboard pack’s lid and held it out to Mike beside him. “Care for a cigarette?”
“Sure.” He pulled one of them out and watched as Gage offered the same for everyone at the table. Soon each of the men, including Roy, had a thin white candy stick with a pink end on it sticking out of the corner of his mouth. They continued on with the inspections.
A short time later. . .
Everyone looked to Chet, who had already munched down his candy cig. He was holding a red round piece of candy in a clear wrapper and reaching for another.
“Jaw breakers. . .you know. . .cinnamon flavored. . .like Red Hots.” He glanced at Roy. “You don’t want your kids busting their teeth on these.”
“Not ta mention they’re a choking hazard,” Johnny added.
“So you don’t mind. . .”
He shook his head. “Take them, Chet.”
“Hey, how about sharin’?” Johnny said as the mustached fireman grabbed a few more.
“Ah, c’mon. I haven’t had these in years, Gage.” He plopped one of the candies in his mouth.
“I gave you one of these.” The dark-haired paramedic held up the candy cigarette pack.
Chet gave it thought. “Okay, but just a couple.”
“That’s more like it.”
Chet just blew spicy breath in the paramedic’s direction.
Roy and the captain, Marco and Mike all traded glances, then shook their heads. Sometimes it was a toss up as to who was the most annoying with the antics, Johnny or Chet.
Not long after. . .
This time everyone looked in Mike’s direction. What had he found?
“Is there a hole in the wrapper?” Roy wondered. The idea there apparently was tampering suddenly had him thinking of what could’ve happened if they hadn’t checked. He’d hoped they wouldn’t find any.
“No,” Mike said, which quickly put those thoughts to rest. “It’s those little wax bottles that come in a six-pack. You know with the Kool-Aid stuff inside,” he said as he held it up. “They’re okay once you bite the tops off, but it’s kinda dangerous because little kids might eat the wax.”
“I don’t know. . .” Roy commented. “That’s a bit of a stretch.”
“But. . .do you wanna take the chance?”
Roy glanced at his partner. Johnny was looking at him, his head cocked to the side, as he waited for Roy’s response.
“I guess for Jennifer’s sake, it might be better to just take them out. How many sets are there?”
“Looks like three,” Marco offered.
“Okay, you guys can have those.”
“Do you want the kids to have these?” Captain Stanley asked.
Roy saw he was holding up a small box of Jujubes.
“What’s the problem with those?”
“Nothing, really. Just that they can be a little hard on the teeth.”
DeSoto sighed. “You know, guys, I’m not sure this is working out.”
“Why not?” Chet questioned, his jaw breaker now pea-sized in his mouth.
“Probly ‘cause you ate too much of the candy,” Johnny stated.
“No, it’s not you, Chet. It’s not anyone. Actually it’s everyone.”
He pushed back his chair and stood up. He then gathered up Jennifer’s candy that remained on the table and plopped some in her trick-or-treat sack
“We’ll back off, Roy,” Captain Stanley assured. “I guess we just got carried away.”
“Yeah, we were just trying to keep your kids safe.”
Roy scooped up more candies and put them in Jennifer’s sack. “I know, Marco. I know you guys meant well. It’s just that the way it’s going, by the time we’re done, there isn’t going to be much candy left for them.”
“So you’re just gonna give up? What about the rest we haven’t checked out yet?”
Roy finished putting Chris’s candy in his sack, then picked both up.
“That’s easy. We’re going to take it to Rampart.”
Johnny screwed up his face. “Rampart?”
“That’s right. We’re gonna have it x-rayed.”
The captain raised his eyebrows in surprise and then nodded in approval. It wasn’t a bad idea.
The engine crew watched as the paramedics headed for their squad in the apparatus bay, the two candy sacks in tow.
Suddenly remembering, the captain called out, "Hey, you forgot--!"
It was too late. They were gone. With a shrug, Hank Stanley opened the small box in his hand and held it out to the others.
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October Picture 2007 Stories Page