By Audrey W.
John Gage stopped behind his partner Roy DeSoto, who was dusting off their squad with a rag, and sighed.
“Whata you mean?”
“You’ve been quiet all morning, busying yourself with this,” he said indicating the still moving cloth, though Roy didn’t stop nor turn around to see. “All the signs you’ve got something on your mind that isn’t exactly okay.”
This time Roy stopped his chore and turned to face the other. “Can’t a guy dust off the squad without it meaning anything other than that it was dusty and needed it?”
“Well, sure,” Gage shrugged. “’Cept you’ve been cleaning the same spot each time I’ve walked by!” The expression on Roy’s face had him adding, “You don’t even know how many times that’s been, do ya?”
“So I’m a little preoccupied.” He went back to his chore.
Johnny stepped to where he was beside him. “Preoccupied? Roy! You’re beyond preoccupied. You’re way beyond. It’s obvious you’ve got somethin’ on your mind that’s really got ya bugged, so spill.”
Roy shook his head. “I’d really rather not talk about it.”
Gage’s face brightened in realization. “So I’m right! There is something major going on.”
Damn, fell right into that, Roy thought to himself. He took a couple of steps away from his partner and continued to clean.
Gage was still in place as he thought about what it could be. After several seconds he guessed, “Is your mother-in-law coming for Christmas?”
“Yes, but that’s not it. . .this time.”
“Your mother coming, too?”
“No.” Roy stopped his work again and eyed the questioner. “Look, I said I don’t want to talk about it. I meant it. So would you stop trying to guess and leave me alone for awhile?”
“Sure. Sure, I’ll stop. I’ll leave ya alone. But when you are ready to talk about it, you know where I’ll be.”
Johnny reluctantly headed into the dayroom while Roy started back to dusting. He stopped after a few seconds and turned to look where his friend had just gone.
These kind of things are supposed to happen to *him*, not me.
Not long after Gage had gone into the other room, the tones sounded. The squad was dispatched out for a call regarding a woman down at a local ice rink.
When the paramedics arrived on scene, they were met at the entrance by an employee. The nineteen year old girl, dressed as an elf of sorts, led them inside to the shiny surface where a woman in her thirties sat out near the middle. Patrons continued on skating along the outer edges of the rectangle shaped rink to the Christmas tunes playing over the PA system. Everyone, including the victim, was dressed warmly in the chilled arena.
“We told everyone to stay clear of her,” the guide informed them.
As long as everyone stayed out of the way, it was fine with the two rescuers. Only some people bothered to watch as the men excused themselves past the line-in-motion.
“Whoa,” Johnny blurted out as one of his feet nearly went out from under him.
“Careful, I don’t need to be treating you as well.”
The younger paramedic scoffed at the idea suggested by Roy, but hoped that it wouldn’t come about.
They reached the victim without incident and set the biophone, drug and trauma box on the ice as they squatted down on either side of her.
“Where are you hurt?” Roy asked. “The girl said you can’t stand up?”
“Oh, I could stand up. . .if I wanted to,” came the explanation in a loud whisper that was barely audible above the music..
The two men exchanged slightly puzzled glances before Johnny questioned, “Ma’am?”
She looked across the rink to a refreshment stand back behind the seats that lined the waist-high wall. She waved to man who returned the gesture with his free hand, a one-year-old baby girl held in the crook of his other arm.
Both men nodded.
“That’s my husband. See those six kids with him?”
Again they nodded when they saw the five rambunctious girls and boys near him, and of course the one he was toting. The age range looked to go all the way up to ten or eleven.
“Those are ours. Four of them have been out of school for Christmas break for almost a week now. All I’ve heard all day long every day since is ‘mom, so-and-so did this’, ‘’David won’t share’, ‘Kathy took my doll’, ‘Robert’s telling lies again’, ‘Beth’s making fun of me’ and of course the always popular, ‘mom, there’s nothing to do’.” The woman sighed in exasperation. “So my husband suggested we all go here on his day off. You know, all get out.”
She stopped and waved again, this time with a very dramatic grimace. He winced, then went about doling out the treats he’d bought the children, who appeared to be fussing over who should be standing where at the moment.
“I can’t skate. . . but to get my break from their break? I said I’d give it a try.”
She slowly moved her left foot side to side slightly, drawing their attention to it automatically, as she pointed to her left ankle.
“Just act like you’re looking where I told you it hurts. He’s watching again.”
“Are you even hurt at all?” Johnny asked, a hint of irritation in his voice as he did what she suggested. He wasn’t sure why he was compelled to the action, he just was.
“Honestly?” She gave a sheepish look. “Well, I did land pretty hard on my bottom. But I’d really rather you not take a look at that here.”
“The thing is, when I went down, Greg was so filled with guilt, he said he’d take a couple of days off of work to watch the kids if I was hurt. You think I was going to pass up that opportunity? That’ll get me the life of leisure for two__whole__ days. Almost three! Who in their right mind would say no to that?”
They gave it a few seconds of thought. Would it be right to use the resources for this cause? Probably not; but there was a way to compromise and perhaps help this one individual out.
“You know, Johnny, I think she might need to be seen by a doctor as a precaution.”
The younger man nodded in mock agreement with his partner. “Couldn’t hurt.” He looked at the woman. “No pun intended.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“You’ll have to go non-code R without us.”
“We’ll need to be available for any real emergencies,” Johnny added. He opened the biophone box and set up the antenna to it. “I’ll let the doctor know what’s up. Maybe he can kinda recommend you get a couple of days of rest.”
Once she was on her way, the paramedics were back in their squad and on their way to the station.
Johnny glanced at his partner in the driver’s seat of the squad.
“Well, I’m glad we got out of that slippery situation without any added problems.”
He’d come close to falling a few times while walking back across the ice, but luckily remained on his feet.
“Now if I could just get out of my own,” Roy mumbled.
Johnny jerked his head around to face his partner. “So you do have a problem!”
“I never denied that.”
That was true. He hadn’t. Gage recalled how in fact he’d even admitted it earlier. But he hadn’t let on that it was a ‘slippery’ situation. That meant one thing to Johnny. His face brightened as his confidence that he was about to get more answers grew.
“It’s Joanne, isn’t it? Your problem is to do with Joanne.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Because it’s always a slippery situation when a husband is in trouble with his wife. It’s like he’s gotta walk on eggshells just not to crash. However,” he added as he held up his right index finger. “When it’s with in-laws or parents, it’s always a sticky one, where ya feel like you’re stuck. No matter what you do, it’s gonna be trouble.”
Roy took a quick glance at him, then returned his attention to the street and traffic ahead.
“What makes you an expert? You aren’t even married.”
“It’s with Joanne, right?”
After a few seconds, the senior paramedic admitted, “Okay, yeah. It’s with Joanne.”
“Well, there ya go. I may be a bachelor, but I know people.”
“And that’s all you’re going to know.”
Gage frowned. He’d been so close to getting the whole explanation. He thought for sure Roy was going to open up.
Maybe I *don’t* know people as much as I thought. . .
He faced forward and watched out the windshield, a slightly puzzled expression on his face. He’d been so certain.
“C’mon, Roy,” Johnny said as he climbed out of the squad after Roy had backed it into the apparatus bay and brought it to a stop. “What’re friends for?”
“For giving each other space when they ask.”
“Wrong, Roy.” He came around the front of the squad to the driver’s side. “They’re for bein’ there when one has a problem.”
“I have a wife for that, remember?”
Gage shook his head. “Doesn’t count when the problem is between you two.”
Roy rolled his eyes and started for the dayroom. “Look, I’m not going to say anything.”
The younger man stood there a few seconds watching his partner retreat. When DeSoto disappeared through the doorway, he finally stated, “You just did when you said that!”
He swore under his breath as he followed behind. Somehow he had to get Roy to tell him what was going on before it drove him crazy.
“I bet I can guess what it is now. Now I can guess.”
Roy glanced at the younger man once again in the squad with him. The paramedics were returning to the station after another run for minor injuries.
“I thought maybe you’d finally given it up. You haven’t said anything about it for a couple of hours.”
Johnny shook his head. “Nope, just thinkin’ was all.”
“About Joanne and I?”
That seemed a little obsessive to Roy, even for Gage.
“No. . .no. Well, not just about you an’ Joanne. I’ve been thinking about other stuff, too. Anyway, that’s not important,” he waved off. “What is is that I think I know what it is.”
“Okay, let’s hear your guess.”
“Joanne wants to have a Christmas party and you don’t.”
“Not even close.”
Johnny scowled. He was sure that was the wrong answer, but hoped Roy would offer the right one in response if he guessed. It didn’t work. He really was starting to doubt his knowledge of the human instinct after all.
“You wouldn’t guess it in a million years. Trust me.”
That had Gage’s curiosity piqued even higher.
It must *really* be something’ serious . . .but what?
An hour later, the paramedics and engine crew were dispatched out for a motor vehicle accident. A man with his ten-year-old son riding on the back of his motorcycle was hit by a car when the driver made an unexpected lane change. The father lost control of his bike on impact and crashed to the pavement.
“What’ve we got, Vince?” Captain Stanley asked the police officer upon arrival to the scene.
“The occupants of the car are uninjured. However, the driver of the motorcycle and his son are both going to need medical attention. Get this, he was wearing a motorcycle helmet, but his boy just had a toy football helmet on for protection.”
Hank shook his head at the idea. Sometimes people just weren’t thinking clearly. Johnny and Roy hurried to where another officer was with the victims near the downed cycle still in the street as traffic was routed away a block down from them.
“Can you tell me where you hurt?” Roy asked the father.
“It’s my leg. The bike came down on my left leg.”
The senior paramedic gently palpated the injured limb, drawing a couple of winces and quick intakes of air from the man.
“Probably fractured,” he surmised.
In the meantime, Gage was with the boy nearby. He’d been thrown off the bike, landing clear of it. His clothing protected him from road rash, however he was complaining of pain in the left shoulder with or without movement of his arm.
Johnny glanced at the toy football helmet on the ground beside them as he treated the youngster.
“Did you hit your head at all?”
“Good deal, then. I don’t think that thing would’ve done ya much good if ya had.”
He shot a quick look toward the dad, hoping he heard. But if nothing else, Roy would address the lack of safety a toy provided compared to the real deal anyway. There was no way that dad was getting away without some safety advice concerning his son. Because next time, if there was one, the results could be tragic. He just happened to be lucky nothing more serious happened to his boy this time out.
Soon they had the victims ready for transport and they were on their way in the ambulance with Roy. Johnny would follow behind in the squad.
“I hope we don’t see this again,” Hank commented to his youngest paramedic, the football helmet in his right hand. “I’ll never understand a parent who will protect themselves adequately, but leave their kids vulnerable.”
Johnny nodded in agreement. “He said he just got the bike as an early Christmas gift. . .didn’t have time to get a child-sized helmet yet and his son was anxious to go for a ride. Don’t worry. Roy set him straight on that.”
“Good. Let’s hope he was really listening.”
Gage looked off in the direction the ambulance had gone. If he had to guess, Roy was likely ensuring it sank in.
Hank smiled, the same thought on his mind.
“See ya back at the station,” Johnny said, then gave a slight wave as he headed for the squad.
When Johnny got to Rampart, Roy was in the treatment room with the boy. The dad was in another room with Doctor Brackett. The dark-haired paramedic peeked into the latter to see if they needed anything from him, information or otherwise.
“No, that’s okay, Johnny,” Brackett answered. “I think we’ve got it from here.”
“Okay, thanks, Doc.”
Christine was the nurse with the doctor, so being that Dixie wasn’t at the base station, he figured the head nurse was likely in the room with the man’s son.
Man, I was hoping I could talk to her about Roy. . .maybe *she’d* have an idea. . .
Then it dawned on him. It could be that Roy gave Joanne an early Christmas present and she hated it.
Sure, why not? Mr. Ellis got the motorcycle early from his *wife*. . .and man, is she gonna be mad at *him* now. . .so Joanne could be mad at Roy over a gift. . .
His thoughts were interrupted when Roy came out of the treatment room and joined him near the base station.
“How’s the kid?” Johnny asked.
“Ready to ride again, believe it or not. So I told him to make sure his dad does what we told him to do and gets him a real helmet. Dixie’s going to make sure the message is clear, too. Add a Brackett lecture to that, and I don’t think he’ll be out without one again.”
“Man, they were so lucky.”
“Yeah, I hate to think of what could’ve happened if Kyle hit his head on the pavement with just a toy protecting it.”
Johnny let out a slight sigh. “Well, you ready to get outta here?”
“Sure. Just make me one promise.”
“No guesses on the way back to the station.”
Roy started for the exit as Johnny swore under his breath from behind.
Playing basketball in the rear lot of the station, Johnny made a jump shot for the basket, grinning wide when the ball went right in. He then stepped back as Chet Kelly went for the ball while Marco looked on.
“So what’s up with your partner?” Chet questioned as he failed his attempt at making a basket as well.
“He’s too quiet today. . .even for Roy.”
The curly-haired fireman dribbled the ball, then once again shot for the basket. As it bounced off the rim, Johnny asked, “You noticed too?”
“Of course,” Chet admitted as he tried again for an immediate score. This time he was successful. “We all have, huh, Marco?”
“That’s right. Something’s bothering him.”
Johnny had gotten the ball and stopped dribbling as soon as Marco had made his comment.
“That’s it,” he said as he passed the ball back to Chet. He started for the wide open entrance of the apparatus bay.
“Where’re you going? We haven’t finished the game yet!”
“To find Roy and talk to him!” He called over his shoulder. “If you two can see it, too, there’s definitely something seriously wrong and whether he wants to admit or not, Roy could probably use my help!”
Chet and Marco exchanged glances.
“I sure would like to be a fly on the wall with that conversation.”
Marco shook his head. “Not me.”
Chet raised his eyebrows in question.
“Nine times out of ten, a fly on the wall is going to be a smashed spot on the wall once a person sees it. The odds of you surviving wouldn’t be good.”
Chet rolled his eyes, then aimed for the basket hoop again. This time the ball rode all the way around on the rim before falling off to the side, away from the opening. He tried to ignore Marco’s snickering.
After checking the dayroom for his partner, Johnny found him sitting at the desk in the dorm room. He didn’t look any happier than before.
Gage wanted to press on the issue, but Roy’s insistence that he didn’t want to talk about it came back to mind. He wasn’t sure now that he saw his partner again, that he should pry. Then again, his own words came back to mind as well. What’re friends for?
He opened his mouth to start a conversation when the tones sounded.
“Squad 51, possible heart attack, 245 North Clayton Street, two four five North Clayton Street, time out 16:45.”
Their own problems and issues were forgotten as they hurried out of the dorm and toward their truck.
The call was at a restaurant, often frequented by families. A grandpa there with his wife and other relatives was having chest pains as they all waited to be served their early dinners.
With him seated at the table and after getting his vitals, Johnny hooked leads up to his chest, while Roy connected the biophone to send the resulting EKG to Rampart.
“Do you have a history of heart trouble?” Gage asked the profusely sweating man.
“No. . .” he offered somewhat breathlessly. “Nothing. . .”
“He’s always been as healthy as a horse,” one adult daughter explained.
After receiving the abnormal EKG, the doctor advised them on what to do and to transport immediately since the ambulance was on scene.
As they hurried out with him on the stretcher, the waitress that was taking care of the table rushed to catch up with them. When she was alongside the group as they emerged outside the building, she asked the victim, “Mister Collins, do you want your dinner to go?”
Both Johnny and Roy looked incredulously at her. Really? The man was in a crisis, his life possibly on the line and she was worried about take-out?
Mr. Collins looked just as stunned as his escorts. He was at a loss for words, not only due to his still being in disbelief and fear with his current condition but also due to the inappropriateness of her question as well.
Roy took the liberty of answering for him while Johnny continued on toward the ambulance with the others.
“I don’t think that’s necessary and I’m sure it’s the least of his concerns at the moment.”
“Oh. . .right. . .I guess so. . .”
Once he was facing away from her, he rolled his eyes. He then addressed the distraught wife and family who had followed out behind a short distance back.
“We’ll be taking him to Rampart General Hospital. One of you can ride in the front of the ambulance if you want, but the rest’ll have to get there on your own.”
There was never a question among them who would go. The wife was grateful she could be with her husband.
Johnny rode in with the patient while Roy drove the squad.
Once Mr. Collins was with a doctor, Johnny left the treatment room to find Roy. He still had to decide whether to bring up the problem with Joanne again. But he was even more tempted now.
Though it had nothing to do with expecting the situation they’d just been through directly, being around a food place had made him think of another possibility. Maybe the problem with Joanne had to do with food.
As he approached Roy near the base station the latter asked, “How’s he doing?”
“Okay considering. Still pretty shook up though.”
Roy noticed an exceptionally thoughtful expression come across Gage’s face as the younger man eyed him as well.
“You’re still thinking about me and Joanne. . .”
“Well, yeah. . .of course I’m still thinkin’ about you two. I’m just concerned about you and Joanne is all. Especially if you’re having a fight at this time of year.”
Roy sighed. He wished he would’ve acted as if nothing was any different.
As they walked out to the squad at Rampart, Roy stated, “It’s a doll.”
“What?” Johnny asked, glancing around. “Where?”
“No, not here. The thing with Joanne. It’s to do with a doll.”
“You mean as in one you did or didn’t get Jennifer?”
“No, as in one Joanne bought for her mother.”
They stopped the conversation as they each went to opposite sides of their truck. Once in, Roy looked over from the driver’s side to his partner in the passenger seat.
“I was just standing in front of it, looking at it. . .it’s in a box with a clear front. . .and she got this wild idea I was taken by its beauty.”
Johnny’s lower jaw dropped in surprise. “Ya mean, Joanne is jealous of a doll?”
“That’s what I mean.”
“Roy, that’s just crazy!”
“Yeah. . .well, don’t let her hear you say that, or I’ll really have problems.”
“You mean Jo or the doll?”
Roy glanced at him with pursed lips, then turned the key in the ignition as Johnny called them in as available.
While Roy drove the squad into the street, Gage questioned, “How come you decided to tell me anyway?”
“Because sometimes the imagination can conjure up much worse things than reality and yours is certainly no exception.”
The younger man laughed slightly under his breath. Roy certainly had a point. However, he could have never imagined anything as bizarre as this. He was even more doubtful than ever before that he didn’t know people as well as he thought he did.
The paramedics were quiet until halfway back to the station, when Gage revealed he was still stuck on one subject.
“You think I could see that doll?”
Roy rolled his eyes. He thought for sure he would have gotten his partner’s thoughts off the situation having given him the answer.
Apparently not. . .
“I’m just curious is all,” he shrugged. “That must really be some kinda doll for Joanne to get jealous.”
“I’m sure I’m going to regret this, but sure. Joanne’s supposed to go to a Christmas brunch tomorrow at one of her friend’s houses down the street from us. I’ll let you know when the coast is clear and you can drop by then.”
“Good deal!” Gage grinned wide with satisfaction. “Good deal. . .”
Roy just hoped he wouldn’t regret it.
Later in the evening, after dinner, the men of Station 51 sat gathered in front of the portable television set at one end of the dayroom. They sat on chairs pulled away from the kitchen area table since the leather couch in the room was against a wall and not facing toward the TV.
The room was darkened to make it easier to see the screen with no glare from overhead lights.
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was the movie the men were watching, having turned the channel to it after it had already started.
“You ever wonder what life would be like if you never existed?” Johnny asked Roy in a hushed tone.
Roy shook his head. “I already know. Joanne would’ve married Frank Gray from high school and she’d be divorced by now.”
“How do you know it wouldn’ta worked out?”
“Joanne Gray just doesn’t sound right for her.”
Johnny gave a slight nod, though he wasn’t quite satisfied with the answer. It seemed Roy was just trying to end the conversation.
Probly so, he decided.
“I know one thing,” Chet said, interrupting his thoughts. “If you didn’t exist, we wouldn’t hear background whispering through the movie right now.”
The others snickered and agreed as Gage folded his arms across his chest and rolled his eyes.
Oh well, at least he’d gotten his people knowledge skills back.
The following morning, the men had just returned from structure fire call when it was time for them to turn the station over to the next shift. All but Captain Stanley headed for the locker room to change out of their smoky-smelling turnouts and uniforms and into civilian clothes. The odor would stick with them in their hair and all, but it was even stronger with the fabric.
“Don’t forget to call me when Joanne goes to the brunch.”
Roy kept his gaze on the contents of his locker. “I won’t.”
“What’s going on now?” Chet wondered.
“I’m goin’ to Roy’s house to see--”
A quick tap on his shoulder had Johnny stop in mid sentence. The look from DeSoto told him he’d better not give the whole story away.
“To see_uh_ some of the stuff they bought,” he stammered out, getting a nod of approval from Roy. The younger man grinned in self-pride.
After the paramedics left, Marco and Chet decided Gage was in some way trying to help Roy with what ever his problem was. Just that they didn’t know in what way nor what was going on with Roy.
The former stated, “Now I’d like to be a fly on the wall.”
“What about ending up as a splat and all that?”
“I have a feeling it would be worth it now.”
Mike Stoker just wondered what in the world was going on with all four of his co-workers, but decided maybe he was better off not knowing, thus didn’t ask. The often quiet engineer decided that maybe silence really was golden, especially now.
Standing in the master bedroom of the DeSoto home, John Gage’s mouth dropped open when he saw the object of Roy’s problem displayed in a box in the corner of the room. Clothed in a beautiful winter bridal dress and hat with a long full veil, there she was, all three feet in height of her.
“Man, she really is a doll!” He stated as he slowly walked over toward her.
“I told you.”
“No, I mean a doll, as in incredible! Why, if I passed a chic that looked like that on the street, she’d definitely have my attention.”
“Would you knock it off? You aren’t making this any better.”
“Man, I know. But I never expected her to look like this! No wonder Joanne’s jealous.”
“Would you keep it down a little?” Roy asked, his own voice hushed as he uneasily glanced around. This was already feeling like a bad decision.
Gage kept his gaze on the porcelain beauty as he shook his head side to side. “Man. . .”
Both men suddenly turned around to see Joanne DeSoto standing in the doorway, her arms folded across her chest. She looked less than happy. Neither could find their voices in that split second.
She stepped into the room. “I can’t believe you brought Johnny over to see her, too! Who’s next? Captain Stanley? The rest of the crew?”
“Roy, how could you?”
“It’s not what you think,” Roy tried to explain. “I didn’t invite Johnny over, he invited himself and I just went along with it.”
And boy do I regret it now, he thought to himself. He still was trying to figure out how a normally level headed woman like his wife could blow the whole thing out of proportion. The only thing he could think of was stress over her mother’s impending visit.
In the meantime, Johnny nodded in agreement.
Joanne focused on their guest. “Even if that’s true, why would you end up in here looking at her?” She pointed to the doll that she couldn’t wait to give to her mother and get it out of her house.
Gage didn’t know what the best thing was to say to that. He looked to Roy for the answer, but his friend appeared just as at a loss for words again.
She turned and left the room in a huff.
The men stood quiet a moment before Johnny broke the silence with, “You think I should just stay home Christmas Day?”
Roy only wished that was the biggest issue at the moment.
Christmas Eve Day, the crew of A-shift was back on duty. Though usually the holiday proved to be a busy evening and night with calls, the men hoped for a quiet shift for everyone’s sake.
As they inventoried their supply boxes from the squad, both men squatted down beside the red truck on the passenger side, Roy and Johnny discussed Joanne and the doll.
“She wrapped it up not long after you left,” Roy explained to his partner. “Said she didn’t know why she hadn’t done it sooner. Her mother came into town to stay with us the next day, so that’s kept Jo’s mind off everything else since. Now she’s had to deal with the kids being spoiled and someone else trying to run things a different way than she’s used to; I’ve gotta admit, it’s been a welcome distraction for a change.”
“So she blamed herself for what happened with the doll?”
Roy shook his head. “No, not exactly. But I at least got her to understand that I only told you about the whole thing because it was bothering me she didn’t seem to realize she’s the most beautiful woman. . .real or otherwise. . .in the world to me. And that you only wanted to see the doll out of typical male curiosity. . .which can be our own worst enemy at times.”
“Gee, thanks. . .”
“Hey, don’t knock it. Chalking it up to that is gonna make your Christmas Day at our house tense free.”
Johnny closed the drug box and stood up to put it back in its compartment. With a sigh, he offered, “If you say so.”
He hoped Roy was right.
Christmas Day started out just as Johnny and Roy had wanted. A quiet finish to their duty at the station, which meant others were having a safe morning at the very least.
Next in line was a very welcoming Joanne DeSoto when her husband’s dark-haired partner arrived at their house, showered and in clean clothes an hour after Roy had come home. None of the three adults involved in the doll situation brought up what had transpired a few days before. Gage’s silence on the matter earned him more favorable points with Joanne.
After a large breakfast, the three, Joanne’s mother and the two children all gathered in the livingroom to open the remaining presents. Christopher and Jennifer had been allowed to open a few of their gifts earlier.
Joanne’s mother carefully removed the wrapping paper from her present, it being reusable her goal. Once it was off, she looked admiringly at the porcelain winter bride doll in the plastic case.
“Oh, isn’t she just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? What a doll!”
For a second time, Johnny and Roy found themselves at a loss for words as they each felt Joanne’s gaze on them from where she’d just helped her little girl open a gift beside the Christmas tree. After exchanging quick unsure glances, the men slunk down slightly in their seats, Roy in his easy chair, Gage on the couch.
Roy gave a noncommittal shrug with a weak grin.
Johnny felt like the proverbial fly that had been found on the wall of the DeSoto home, which he vowed never to want to know the details of ever again. . .at least not until he got out of this situation ‘unflattened’.
This story was inspired when my husband stood looking at the doll I am taking care of for my mom. No, I didn't get jealous <G>, but thought it would be fun to see what would happen if Roy did the same thing. :o)
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